Remember our post about how to throw a Mac & Cheese Bake-Off? Well, I'm happy to report that the award for greatest mac & cheese on the planet goes to . . . contestant Joanie Tobin!
Here's the recipe - try to be first in line when this comes out of the oven, because it's likely to cause a stampede:
Apple Macaroni & Cheese
2 cups of pretzels
an apple or two
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cups apple cider
4 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 1/2 cups Extra Sharp Cabot White Cheddar, divided
1 cup Gruyere, divided
4 cups medium shell pasta
3-4 Qts water for pasta
Smash up a bunch of pretzels into crumbs using the bottom of a glass.
Peel, core, and thinly slice an apple or two.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat milk, cream and apple cider until hot.
While milk mixture is heating, melt butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and bubbling, add flour. Cook, stirring for 1 minute, to create a roux.
Pour hot milk mixture slowly into skillet with flour-butter mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and whisking over medium heat until sauce bubbles and becomes thick.
Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp. salt, the rest of the seasonings, 2 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup gruyere. Set aside.
Fill a large saucepan with 3 to 4 Qts water and remaining 2 Tbsp. salt and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook slightly less than what the package calls for (about 5 minutes). Pasta should be slightly underdone. Pour pasta into colander and rinse under cold water, draining well.
Stir pasta into cheese sauce and transfer to casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cup of cheddar and 1/2 cup of gruyere over pasta, lay the apple pieces flat, and spread pretzel crumbs on top to cover. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Get ready to field marriage proposals.