BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE (with Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, for 4 to 6)
1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ pound extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
½ pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
red hot pepper sauce
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
1.Preheat the oven to 350*. Lightly butter a 2-1/2 quart baking dish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the boiling water, add the macaroni, stir well and cook for about 6 minutes. The macaroni will still be quite al dente: it will cook further in the oven. Do not overcook. Drain thoroughly.
2. While the pasta is draining, in a saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. In another saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Whisk in the flour and reduce the heat to low. Let the flour mixture bubble, whisking occasionally and with out browning, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, raise the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add the cheeses and stir until the cheeses are melted. Return the macaroni to the pot and stir well. Season to taste with salt and hot pepper sauce.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Spread the macaroni evenly in the prepared baking dish, sprinkle the top with bread crumbs, and drizzle the melted butter evenly over the crumbs. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the top is browned, about 40 minutes. Serve hot, directly from the baking dish.