Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 12 to 16
Note: Betty Hallock's Oct. 4 article asked why so many Los Angeles restaurants serve weird, badly made versions of good old macaroni and cheese. She and Donna Deane came up with this majestic recipe, which uses large elbow macaroni or extra-large shell pasta such as chiocciole or conchiglie so you get a squirt of liquid cheese with every bite.
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon melted butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided
3 cups shredded Swiss Gruyère cheese
1 pound shells or elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions in salted water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the panko bread crumbs with the melted butter on a small baking pan. Toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted, then stir in the flour. Heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Add the dry mustard, white and cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and bay leaf. Heat and stir to boiling, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf.
3. Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and all the Gruyère until melted. Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, stirring until all of the macaroni is coated. Pour the macaroni into a well-buttered 9- by 13-inch casserole. Drizzle heavy cream around the edges of the casserole. Sprinkle on it the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese, then the toasted bread crumbs.
4. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes. Put under a preheated broiler for 5 minutes.
Each of 16 servings: 415 calories; 19 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 25 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 75 mg. cholesterol; 565 mg. sodium.