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Delectable Mac ‘n’ Cheese

By Chef John Ash

Properly made, macaroni and cheese can be transcendent. What could be better than to share this recipe and a glass of Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay with your sweetheart?

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    Serves 4

    Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

    Prep Time 30 minutes

    Difficulty Level Medium

    Ingredients

    1/2 c panko bread crumbs

    1/2 c plus 2 teaspoons melted butter and more for buttering dish

    1/2 c flour

    5 c milk

    1/2 tsp dry mustard

    1/4 tsp white pepper

    1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

    1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

    2 tsp salt, or to taste

    1 bay leaf

    1/4 c dry sherry

    4 c shredded cheddar cheese

    4 c shredded Swiss Gruyère cheese

    1 lb large shells or elbow macaroni such as conchiglie, cooked al dente in salted water

    1/2 c heavy cream

    Directions

    1. Heat the oven to 350°. Toss the panko bread crumbs with the 2 teaspoons melted butter on a baking sheet. Toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    2. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1/2 cup butter over medium heat then whisk in the flour. Stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk.

    3. Add the dry mustard, white and cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, bay leaf and sherry. Heat and stir to boiling, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and all the Gruyère until melted. Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, stirring until all of the macaroni is coated.

    5. Pour the macaroni into a well-buttered 9-by-13-inch casserole.

    6. Drizzle heavy cream around the edges of the casserole. Sprinkle on it the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese, then the toasted bread crumbs.

    7. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes.

    8. Put under a preheated broiler for 5 minutes to crisp and brown.

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