The sad news is that my search is over for the perfect macaroni and cheese. 😉 This version was incredible. It’s easy to prepare, the pasta is even incorporated uncooked, and I was able to assemble it in advance and refrigerate it for a couple of hours prior to baking as well. I also loved that it had dry mustard and cottage cheese in its creamy filling. The golden-brown crispy crust on the top was just the icing on the cake.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I used DeCecco cavatappi instead of elbows (so much more fun) and decreased the amount of butter (slightly). We enjoyed it as part of my husband’s extravagant birthday feast! Absolutely delicious.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup cottage cheese (not low-fat)
- 2 cups milk (not skim)(I used whole milk)
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Pinch cayenne
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used my favorite Cabot Classic Vermont 3-year Cheddar)
- ½ pound cavatappi or elbow pasta, uncooked
- Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection, and position an oven rack in upper third of oven.
- Use scant 1/2 tablespoon of butter to butter a 9-inch round or square baking pan. (I used a deep 8-inch round ceramic soufflé dish.)
- In a blender or Vitamix, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together.
- Reserve ¼ cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta.
- Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes. (I put the assembled, covered dish in the refrigerator for several hours prior to baking.)
- Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter.
- Bake, uncovered, 20 to 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
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