Serves 4, with leftovers likely
1 sleeve of Saltine or Ritz crackers, crushed into large crumbs (I use 1/2.)
¼ cup unsalted butter, plus more for pan (I spray pan with cooking spray.)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup to make mine thicker.)
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
1 teaspoon prepared mustard (yellow or Dijon preferred)
½ teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (slightly more if using pre-ground)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups shredded cheese (cheddar is great, or you can create a mix of cheeses you like best)
8 ounces (1 cup) elbow macaroni, boiled in salted water until just fork tender, then drained
Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Butter (or spray) a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted, then stir in flour to make a roux. Heat and stir until mixture is smooth and bubbling, about two minutes.
Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk.
Add the mustard, pepper, paprika, nutmeg and kosher salt.
Return to the heat and bring to a low boil, then add cheese and stir until melted.
Turn off the heat and add in the cooked elbow macaroni.
Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish, then sprinkle the crushed crackers over the top.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.
Place under the broiler for five minutes to brown the top if needed.
Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Photography by Linda Leier Thomason