Steven Petrecca’s Mac-n-Cheese

In one of my periodic trips to Philadelphia, I had the pleasure of doing a cooking demo with then Jones Restaurant executive chef, Steven Petrecca (he’s since moved to another Stephen Starr restaurant, Continental). Steven is the wife of my friend and the food goddess from my show, Jennifer Cohan. I had always loved his mac-n-cheese recipe, so this was such a fun segment!

Here’s the segment:

And here’s the recipe:

You’ll need:

2 ounces of button
1/2 pound white cheddar
quart milk
1 pound cooked elbow macaroni
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 pound yellow cheddar
1/2 teaspoon tabasco
salt and pepper
2 ounces of flour
1 teaspoon of paprika
Bread crumbs

Method:

In a heavy sauce-pot, melt butter. Add flour until it looks like the consistency of wet sand. You may need more or less than recipe. Cook on med-low heat for five minutes until redolent of popcorn.

Add milk (cold) and whisk well to avoid lumps. Add Tabasco, mustard, paprika, simmer on low for 20 min, whisking often. Whisk in cheese a little at a time. Do not let sauce get too hot or it may break. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Place macaroni in a bowl and toss with sauce. It should be very cheesy. Spoon into a baking pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until top starts to brown, about 20 min or so. Top with breadcrumbs for final 10 minutes to achieve a golden brown crust (or broil), watching carefully so crumbs do not burn.

Can be made ahead no problem. just allow longer for reheat.

What’s so nice about this mac-n-cheese recipe is the texture when you mix the generous crumb crust into the creamy cheese sauce. It’s great comfort food for a chilly evening.

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