Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slices good-quality white sandwich bread, torn into rough pieces
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne (they say optional, I say BS, it’s necessary)
5 cups milk (any fat content)
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)

Bread Crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger that 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

Pasta and Cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking contantly (mixture must read full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about five minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 mintues, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, serve.

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