Smoky mac and cheese

This macaroni and cheese recipe is adapted from SteamyKitchen.com, where it was originally a lobster mac and cheese.

I prepared the lobster mac and cheese for our most recent Game Night Food Competition – and I lost by just five points.

Cayenne pepper and nutmeg come together to create a perfect smokey flavor.

Add the lobster if you can. I didn’t just because, well, it’s expensive. But it is just as excellent without it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups uncooked elbow pasta
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese*
  • breadcrumbs (optional)**
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

*Please note for local folks: The Gruyere I used here is from Trader Joe’s, and I much preferred the Hannaford brand I used when making this recipe before.

**The breadcrumbs I used here, just to sprinkle on top, are Italian seasoned breadcrumbs; Panko breadcrumbs are used in the original recipe, because they’re for coating the lobster. Do use Panko if you’re cooking with the lobster.

Side note: Someone please buy me a cheese grater for my next birthday. It is the one kitchen item I did not receive as a wedding gift and I desperately need it, because this cute but laborious baby is what I’m currently using.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions. In the meantime, melt butter in a large saucepan.

Add the flour a little bit at a time, whisking constantly for 3 minutes. Add the half and half a little bit at a time, and again whisk constantly for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Add the two cheeses, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta and cheese sauce to a casserole dish and mix well.

If desired, sprinkle breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

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