Classic Macaroni and Cheese
8 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
1⁄2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
3 3⁄4 cups hot whole milk
4 cups grated sharp cheddar
1 lb. short macaroni, cooked
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 cup fresh bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 6 tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.
Stir in cayenne and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk in hot milk, 1/2 cup at a time, and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low and stir in 2 cups of cheese. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts, about 2 minutes.
Combine pasta and sauce in a large bowl, and season with salt. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the bottom of a buttered 8" × 11" baking dish. Place one-third of the pasta in the baking dish, top with 1/2 cup of cheese, then repeat, layering pasta and cheese, ending with cheese, making three layers in all.
Pour cream over assembled macaroni and cheese. Melt remaining butter in a skillet. Add bread crumbs, coat with melted butter, and sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.
Bake until crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.