Make-Ahead Creamy Macaroni and CheeseMary-Charles Rasbach
Freezing homemade macaroni and cheese is usually a disaster. The noodles will bloat, the sauce will curdle, and the entire thing will dry out. The solution is to us a higher ratio of sauce to macaroni than typical, to use heavy cream instead of milk to prevent curdling, and to keep the starch on the noodles by drying on a baking sheet rather than rinsing in a colander.
- 4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups shredded colby cheese
- 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Pulse the bread, Parmesan, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of butter in a food processor until coarsely ground. Divide the crumb mixture between 2 zipper-lock freezer bags and freeze.
Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and macaroni and cook until barely softened, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.
Heat the remaining butter, flour, mustard, and cayenne in an empty pot over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until golden and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in broth and cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Off heat, whisk in the colby, cheddar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth.
Stir cooled pasta into sauce, breaking up any clumps, until well combined. Divide pasta mixture between two 8-inch square baking dishes. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Wrap dishes tightly with plastic, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 2 months.
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 375°F Remove foil from the casserole and reserve. Microwave casserole until mixture is thawed and beginning to bubble around the edges, 7-12 minutes, stirring and replacing plastic halfway through cooking. (If preparing both dishes, microwave one at a time.) Discard plastic and cover the pan with reserved foil. Bake 20 minutes, then remove foil and sprinkle with 1 bag frozen bread crumbs. (If preparing both dishes, sprinkle the second bag of crumbs over second dish.) Continue to bake until the crumbs are golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes longer. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve.
You will need 2 microwave-save 8-inch baking dishes for this recipe.
Source: Meghan Erwin / Cook’s Country / April 2009