This mac is spiced with ground mustard seed, fenugreek seed, fresh nutmeg, and some smoked paprika.
There’s enough going on here to raise an eyebrow but not a controversy. Cooking onions, garlic, and carrots in butter before making your roux, adds a noticeable body to the mac. If you’re a purest, just skip that step, but try the mustard trick.
The ground mustard in this recipe cuts through the fat, balancing flavors and improving the texture.
In a large pot on medium heat, cook the onions, garlic, and carrots in 1 tablespoon of butter until they start to caramelize.
Add spices and salt to taste, then stir thoroughly with a whisk.
Lower the heat, melt the whole stick of butter, then add the flour.
Continuously whisk this roux, letting it cook so the flour can cook before adding milk.
Add milk one cup at a time, whisking it thoroughly between cups to prevent clumps.
Treat this sauce like a risotto, with a rubber spatula and whisk at the ready.
Stir the sauce with the whisk, and use the spatula to prevent the flour from burning the bottom of the pot. Don’t let your sauce boil, keep the heat between low and medium.
Once sauce has cooked enough for the roux to thicken the milk, turn off the heat and begin adding your cheese. Whisk cheese in slowly, adding a few bits at a time.
If the sauce is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too runny add more cheese.
Taste your sauce, add salt to taste.
Cook your noodles, cool them, and set aside.
For the breadcrumbs:
Melt butter in a skillet, and breadcrumbs and parsley. Toast them lightly, they will toast more in the oven.
Once all parts are ready, mix the noodles with sauce and cheese.
Fill a large pyrex dish with your mac mix, then top with more cheese and bread crumbs,
Bake in the oven at 350 until the mac is bubbling and cheese has melted.
To finish, turn the broiler on low to toast the bread crumbs. You should have a perfectly toasted crust.
Avoid pre-shredded cheese for a mac sauce. The shredded stuff contains cellulose to prevent clumping, leaving a gritty, undesired texture in your mac.
Undercook your noodles just slightly, they will soak up more cheese sauce and hold a better texture.