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Macaroni and Cheese with Cayenne


Serves 6

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 115

Ground cayenne gives a little spicy kick to this otherwise-very-classic mac and cheese.

Make it Your Own: Use the Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Maker to create a recipe with the pasta, cheeses, spices, herbs, meats, and vegetables you love.

For the Topping:
  • 1 small garlic clove, mashed into a paste or pressed (optional)
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups coarse, fresh breadcrumbs, lightly toasted
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
For the Macaroni
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 5 oz. finely grated Gruyère
  • 5 oz. finely grated fontina
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. pipette pasta
Make the Topping:

If using the garlic, stir it into the butter. Put the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl and drizzle the butter over the crumbs. Add a pinch of salt and the Parmigiano-Reggiano (if using). With your hands, toss well to combine. Set aside.

Make the Macaroni:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk over low heat for 3 minutes—the butter and flour should gently bubble and froth without coloring. Slowly add the milk, while whisking constantly. Be sure to whisk around the edges of the pan to get all the lumps. Whisk until the sauce is smooth and has the consistency of heavy cream, about 6 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking constantly. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and gently whisk in the Gruyère, fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cayenne. Season to taste with salt. Keep warm.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pipette pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 1 minute less than indicated on the package. Drain well and return to the pot.

Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and gently stir to combine. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish and evenly scatter the reserved breadcrumbs on top. Bake at 350°F until the top is golden, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.


For individual servings: choose small baking dishes that hold 1-1/2 to 2 cups each. You can fill them to within about 1/2 inch of the rim. The number of servings will, of course, depend on the volume of your baking dishes.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 810; Fat (g): fat g 40; Fat Calories (kcal): 350; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 23; Protein (g): protein g 36; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 76; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1160; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 115; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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