A thick, white Cheddar cheese sauce coats macaroni under a crisp topping. Make the whole dish the morning of the feast; then reheat it for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven just before serving.
1 (16-ounce) package large elbow macaroni
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded white Cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
3 cups soft breadcrumbs (homemade; see Note below)
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
How to Make It
Cook macaroni just until tender according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Melt 1/2 cup butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add cheese and next 3 ingredients; stir until cheese melts. Stir in macaroni.
Spoon macaroni and cheese into a greased 13" x 9" baking dish or other large baking dish. (Dish will be very full.) Toss breadcrumbs with 6 tablespoons melted butter until crumbs are well coated. Sprinkle over macaroni.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and top is golden.
Note: Make fresh breadcrumbs easily by tearing a few pieces from a French baguette. Pulse bread in a food processor or mini chopper until you get coarse crumbs.