This is the easiest, cheesiest, crustiest mac and cheese I’ve ever made! It’s the perfect prep-ahead dish; you don’t even need to make a roux. Prepare the mixture a day ahead, refrigerate it overnight, pour it into an ovenproof dish and bake it before dinner.
Technique tip: For 2½ cups of breadcrumbs, remove the crusts from 6 slices of white bread and dice. Place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until finely ground.
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 4½ cups heavy cream
- 3 cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided (8 ounces)
- 1½ cups grated sharp white cheddar, such as Cabot, divided (4 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, plus extra for the dish
- 2½ cups fresh white breadcrumbs
A day before you plan to serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and cook for 4 minutes (it will be undercooked). Drain (don’t rinse) and set aside.2.
Meanwhile, in a medium (10-inch) bowl, combine the cream, 1½ cups of the Gruyère, 3/4 cup of the cheddar, the nutmeg, 1 tablespoon salt and 1½ teaspoons pepper. Stir the hot pasta into the cream mixture, cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for 24 hours. The pasta will absorb the cream and expand.3.
When ready to bake, allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for about one hour. (You can also microwave it for 4 minutes.) Preheat the oven to 400 F.4.
Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Stir the pasta mixture well, transfer it to the dish, and spread it evenly. Combine the remaining 1½ cups Gruyère and 3/4 cup cheddar and sprinkle evenly on top. Combine the breadcrumbs and the 3 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown. Serve hot.
Reprinted with permission from "Go-To Dinners." Copyright © 2022 by Ina Garten. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.