This simple, humble version of an American classic is a welcome main course when Bethany Imondi makes it for her roommates or friends at Georgetown University.
- Salt for the cooking water, plus 1 teaspoon for the cheese sauce
- 8 ounces dried, shell-shaped pasta
- 3/4 cup unseasoned dried bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, chopped (1/2 to 2/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a medium casserole or baking dish at hand.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, but make sure the pasta is barely al dente. Drain.
Place the bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a microwave-safe cup on LOW, then mix with bread crumbs to coat them thoroughly.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and stir to coat. Cook for about 6 minutes, until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add the flour, the teaspoon of salt and the pepper; cook until for about a minute, then whisk in the milk, continuing to whisk until the mixture forms a slightly thickened sauce. Remove from the heat.
Add the cheese to the saucepan in small handfuls. Whisk in a figure-eight motion until fully combined. Add the cooked, drained pasta and stir to coat evenly, then pour into the casserole or baking dish. Scatter the buttered bread crumbs evenly over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes; the macaroni and cheese will be fairly firm, and the topping should be lightly browned.
Adapted from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook recipe, by Georgetown University student Bethany Imondi.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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