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Stovetop Mac and Cheese, Please

May 27, 2014

Stove-Top Pasta and Cheese

Homemade macaroni and cheese requires many more steps than store-bought mixes, including making a béchamel sauce from scratch. This stove-top version, which matches the boxed kind in ease, approaches the sublime flavor of more-involved baked varieties. Whisking a mixture of eggs and grated cheddar and Parmesan into steaming-hot noodles on the stove top creates a luscious sauce — in mere minutes.

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2 to 3 slices rustic bread, such as ciabatta, trimmed of crusts and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 ounce Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 ounce sharp cheddar, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

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1. Pulse bread in a food processor until coarsely ground (you should have 1 cup). Toast breadcrumbs in a large skillet over medium heat, tossing, until golden and crisp, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter, tossing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted water until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, both cheeses, cream, and mustard in a bowl.

4. Return pasta to pot and add egg mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring, until sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Add reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until pasta is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, topped with breadcrumbs.

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