Making Martha Stewart's mac and cheese instead of the mac and cheese I grew up eating at Thanksgiving isn't something I'd do if I was home for the holidays. My brothers would sulk, my mom would be forlorn about it, and I'm not quite sure my dad would notice. But for my first Friendsgiving, there was only one recipe that would do if I wanted to make a mark. I had to bring Martha Stewart's mac and cheese.
So Delicious, So Expensive
This massive casserole has about seven cups of cheese in it — melted into a Mornay sauce (basically a Béchamel sauce with cheese in it) with a hit of nutmeg, a pinch of cayenne, and a hefty price tag to match. It will cost you around 40 bucks or so since you're spending all your money on cheese, but the response it gets makes it worth every ode on the internet and every look of bliss at the Thanksgiving table.
The mac and cheese I grew up eating has the South written all over it. Sharp and mild cheddar, cans of evaporated milk, and an unapologetic amount of eggs and butter make for a dish that you cut into squares rather than scoop into piles on the plate, but it carries the taste of my grandmother's kitchen so it's the dish we have at home.
Friendsgiving, however, is for freestyling, so I'm happy to leave the tradition at the door. What I won't give up, though, is having mac and cheese for Thanksgiving. I didn't even realize this wasn't a common practice until I began working in food. I'd see Thanksgiving menus and wonder where the mac and cheese was. So for this Friendsgiving in my new home in Iowa, I was going to be sure there was mac and cheese, and I was also going to do some convincing that it was a dish meant to stay.
Martha, with her cup after cup of cheddar and Gruyére, with her buttery blanket of fresh breadcrumbs, with her $40 dollar recipe, did me a solid. Because that mac and cheese (easily weighing around five pounds once assembled and baked) did just what I intended: It became a necessity on the table in the years that followed. Every sharp, creamy bite of this dish became the perfect preamble to turkey swirled in gravy and the ideal chaser to a spoonful of mashed potatoes. The cranberry sauce, the sweet potatoes, and the stuffing never complained about making room on too-full plates for another serving of this mac and cheese.
I love this mac and cheese — really, any mac and cheese — for Thanksgiving, but when it comes to leftovers, there's no contest. Leftover mac and cheese reigns supreme. And because this particular recipe is heavy handed with the fat, it reheats like a dream. No need to worry about too little leftovers, either. Martha's recipe makes a very full three quarts.
Get the recipe: Martha's Mac and Cheese