There are so many ways to make and indulge in the luxury that is homemade macaroni and cheese. This is my favorite recipe and I think it’s a crowd-pleaser. It straddles the line of simple without taking shortcuts and presents a classic, unfussy taste. How many times have I made this, carried it to parks and parties, made it stretch to feed the indeterminate crowd that showed up? Many. Serve it with a large green salad and — done.

Mac and cheese for a crowd

Makes two 9-inch-by-13-inch pans but can easily be halved for fewer eaters and a 9-inch-by-9-inch pan.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds dried pasta, elbows, shells, penne, or any fun shape
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 teaspoons dry yellow mustard powder
  • 10 cups whole milk (a little more than a half-gallon)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, optional
  • About 4 cups (32 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated

Optional breadcrumb topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
This mac and cheese recipe can be made with a topping or without.  You choose.

DIRECTIONS

1. Cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water for 3 minutes less than the indicated package cooking time. Drain and set aside.

2. Grate cheese and set aside.

3. In the now-empty pasta pot, melt the butter over low heat.

4. With a spoon, stir in flour and mustard powder. It will come together as a paste. Stir this for about one minute until this mixture becomes brown and smells good.