Date Posted: 7/10/2005
1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Whole Milk (Not skim or low-fat)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 Lb. Shredded Fontina Cheese
1 Lb. Dry Pasta
This is the best version I've ever found for Everybody's Favorite Comfort Food:
In a sauce pan melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon constantly (you want the flour to cook but not to brown). Now you have a roux. Cook and stir for another minute or two then add the milk. Wisk the milk into the roux and raise the heat slightly, whisking constantly. As it cooks it will start to thicken. Bring it to a boil stirring constantly (if it gets too thick add a little more milk). This is the time-consuming part, but be patient; if you quit too soon the final product will be hard, not creamy.
Now you have a béchamel sauce. Lower the heat and continue to cook this béchamel sauce until it thickly coats the back of a spoon. Season with a little salt & pepper and remove from the heat (for a true béchamel sauce you would add a little freshly grated nutmeg; not necessary for mac & cheese). Off the heat add the grated cheese and stir it in to melt. Now you have your cheese sauce. Cook your pasta in boiling salted water (never add oil to pasta water) and cook until slightly harder than al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the cheese sauce. Pour into a baking dish and reheat when ready to serve.
Of course, you can use cheddar or any other cheese, but I find the Fontina works really well with this.