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|Can you give me a recipe for the classic baked macaroni and cheese which can be adapted for a large crowd?|
Yes. For a lower fat, less costly dish, see the basic mac and cheese recipe on Big Pots; but if you want the original, here it is:
This is a rich, full-fat, baked dish.
One pound of macaroni for classic mac and cheese makes 5 to 8 servings. If it is a side dish, figure 8, but if it is the main dish, teens, or heavy eaters, go for 5-6. So the first decision you must make is, amounts.
A note about the cheese- if you have time, grate it yourself; cheaper for top quality cheese. Also, the texture of the sauce will be better with freshly grated cheese, because pre-grated cheese has a light coating to keep it from clumping. Get a tasty cheese for a top outcome.
Here are the basic proportions for classic baked macaroni and cheese, per pound of pasta:
For the cream sauce/ béchamel:
Heat the milk over medium-high heat until it just comes to a simmer, then turn off the heat and set aside.
Butter or spray the baking pans and dust with grated Parmesan (old Kraft style).
Bring the water to a boil. 1 gallon takes about 20 minutes to boil. You need about 1 gallon for each 2 pounds, and you can only reuse the water once, so for a large amount of pasta, you need a LOT of pots.
Cook the pasta underdone, about 2-3 minutes short of aldente. This is important; it will cook further in the sauce, and can get mushy. Drain (if you are re-using the water, to save it, be careful).
Now here is the decision point; if you have time for a full bake, just thoroughly mix in the pasta, transfer to the baking pans, put on the crumbs, bake 1 hour in the preheated oven at 350.
If you are serving "top of the stove", or just going to run it into the oven to crisp up the bread crumbs (400 degrees, 25-30 minutes);