Ingredients
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
For the Bechamel Cheese Sauce
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
French Onion Mix-Ins
  • 1/2 cup caramelized onions
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Toasted breadcrumbs and a few baby's handful of sliced chives
Southern Mix-Ins
  • 1 cup pimiento cheese
  • 1/2 cup cooked cold collard greens, chopped and drained of excess liquid
  • 1 cup leftover boneless fried chicken, chopped
  • Toasted breadcrumbs and chopped parsley, for topping
  • Jalapeño-infused vinegar, for serving
Steakhouse Mix-Ins
  • 1/4 cup leftover cooked spinach or even better, creamed spinach
  • 4 tablespoons bacon bits
  • 3 tar spoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1/4 cup, chopped leftover steak or beef roast (optional)
  • 1/4 shredded Fontina or pepper jack cheese
  • Breadcrumbs, finely chopped chives and crushed up potato chips, for topping
Preparation

Cook macaroni 1 minute shy of al dente in boiling, salted water. Drain and reserve.

For the Bechamel Cheese Sauce, melt butter and whisk in flour to make a dark blonde roux the consistency of wet sand. Whisk in the milk to combine thoroughly. Add the salt and nutmeg, and cook for 15 minutes—make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot periodically so the sauce does not burn. Add the cheese in handfuls, stir to melt and remove pan from heat.


Preheat broiler.

Add the reserved macaroni to the sauce and gently fold all together. Fold in the mix-ins of your choice then pour everything into a large casserole dish. Top with appropriate toppings and place under the broiler until bubbly and brown.