Dad's Macaroni and Cheese
Serves six to eight.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the skillet
1 large yellow onion, cut in 1/8-inch dice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup grated Wisconsin Asiago cheese
3/4 cup grated dry Jack cheese (Parmesan can be substituted)
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until they are softened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the paprika, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the cheeses, and stir until they are melted. Add the macaroni, and stir until the noodles are thoroughly coated. Remove from the heat. (Do not allow the macaroni to sit at this stage as it will dry out.)
Butter two 6-inch cast-iron skillets or one 12-inch skillet. Transfer the macaroni mixture into the skillets. Top with the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top.
Bake until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Garnish with the chopped herbs.
Photograph by Anna Williams.