This Is the Mac & Cheese Recipe You’ve Been Waiting For

This recipe pairs well with Netflix, yoga pants, and snow days.

Harbor Market’s Mac & Cheese

A cold winter’s night can always go one of two ways: You can remain committed to your diet-related resolutions and spend the hours slurping down ginger tea and bone broth, or you can instead recommit yourself to comfort food and cozy up with short ribs, creamy soup, and everyone’s favorite, Mac & Cheese.

(Of course there is a third route called ‘moderation,’ but a single winter’s night is neither the time nor the place for that.)

If Mac & Cheese is what you’re craving, you’ve come to the right place. This is a dish we take seriously around here (we often debate, for instance, the perfect ratio of mac to cheese in the dish, which varieties of cheeses best lend themselves to the perfect #cheesepull, etc.), and it’s one that we’ve spent a lot of time scouring our local communities to find and share with you.

One thing we never want to share with you (or anyone), however, is a plate of Mac & Cheese from Harbor Market in Sag Harbor.

We discovered Harbor Market’s Mac & Cheese not long after the market opened in 2015, and we’ve been committed fans ever since. Everything about their recipe works—from the mix of cheeses they use, to the ratios they use them in—and, like everything at Harbor Market, their Mac & Cheese is always prepared with local-when-possible, high quality ingredients.

We are so honored that Harbor Market’s chef-owner, Paul Del Favero, has decided to share his recipe with us. It only took us 4 years to work up the nerve to ask him. Don’t wait longer than 4 hours to try making it for yourself.

Harbor Market’s Mac & Cheese Recipe

This recipe makes enough to feed 10-12 people but can easily be halved to feed 5-6 people. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ½ medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 pounds elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup shredded yellow cheddar cheese

Preparation:

1. Heat the milk in a small pot over medium heat until just scalding. Remove from heat. Add onion, bay leaves, and peppercorns and cover. Leave this mixture covered, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes. This will steep the flavor of the onion, bay leaves, and peppercorns into the milk. 

2. While the milk mixture is steeping, melt the butter in a large pot. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture is foaming but not browning. 

3. Using a strainer, strain the warm milk mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk well. Discard the onion, peppercorns, and bay leaves. 

Making Mac & Cheese with chef Paul Del Favero.

4. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Once the sauce comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. 

5. Remove the sauce from the heat, and fold in the white cheddar, pecorino romano, and parmesan cheese. Whisk well until you have a creamy sauce. 

6. Taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper, or nutmeg if necessary. 

7. Set the sauce aside.

8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

9. In a large pot, bring about 8 quarts of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the elbow macaroni and cook for 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente. 

10. Strain the macaroni, then add to the pot of cheese sauce. Stir well. Pour into a 16” x 10” pan, or two 9” x 9” pans. 

Great things happen when you mix pasta and cheese sauce.

11. Top with yellow cheddar.

Say cheese.

12. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.

Et voilá!

13. Allow the Mac & Cheese to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Meghan Harlow

Meghan is the editor of Edible East End and Edible Long Island.