Notes: Behnke duplicates her mom's casserole by baking it until it's very crusty, 10 minutes longer, but the pasta is less creamy-tasting.
1 pound dried small elbow macaroni
About 1/3 cup (1/6 lb.) butter or margarine
2 cups (1/2 lb.) shredded sharp or medium cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs
3 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
About 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
How to Make It
In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, cook macaroni in about 2 quarts boiling water just until tender to bite, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain. Return macaroni to pan, off the heat, and add 1/3 cup butter; stir to melt.
Lightly butter a shallow 2 1/2- to 3-quart casserole. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup bread crumbs over casserole bottom.
Beat eggs, milk, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to blend. Add to macaroni, along with 3/4 cup cheese, and mix well. Pour mixture into casserole. Sprinkle remaining cheese and bread crumbs evenly over top. Dust with paprika.
Bake in a 400° oven until top feels slightly crusty when touched, about 20 minutes (about 15 minutes in a convection oven). Add salt to taste.