One of the key elements is the mornay sauce that surrounds and permeates the pasta as it bakes. Flour, butter and milk are cooked into a béchamel to which grated sharp cheddar and Gruyere are added, resulting in a rich, creamy sauce that won't break down during baking. Torn up white bread is tossed with butter and scattered over the dish, transforming into a crunchy, substantial topping in the oven.
Having made this recipe many times, I have to agree that it is something special. The sauce-to-pasta ratio is just perfect, so the macaroni is neither too dry or too soupy after baking, and the combination of cheddar and Gruyere makes a sauce that is pleasantly sharp without being overpowering. And that layer of craggy croutons takes the usual breadcrumb topping to the next level. It's my go-to mac and cheese recipe, although I often make it with whole-wheat pasta, which holds up well to the sharp sauce.
• Read more and get the recipe: Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese at Food52
Have you ever made this recipe? What is your favorite version of macaroni and cheese?
(Image: Martha Stewart)