Homemade macaroni and cheese is almost always a Good Thing, but is Martha Stewart's recipe perhaps the best of all? Food52 has declared it a "genius recipe" and explains why this version of mac and cheese — creamy, sharp and capped with a layer of crunchy croutons — is a keeper.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.
Anjali is a former private chef who is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutrition, with plans to become a registered dietitian. She lives in Los Angeles. You can read more of her health-focused writing at Eat Your Greens.
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