- 3/4 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- A few dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni until just done, about 8 minutes. Drain and return to the hot pot.
- Put the pot over the lowest possible heat and add the butter, cheese, mustard, Tabasco sauce if using, salt, and pepper. Stir until the cheese melts, and serve.
Test-Kitchen Tip Pre-grated cheeses are certainly convenient, but what you gain in time you lose in taste. Since cheddar cheese is the star ingredient here, try to find one of excellent quality and grate it yourself. It takes only minutes on a hand-held grater. You can grate the cheese while the pasta is cooking. There are a number of delicious cheddars on the market, including those from Vermont, New York, Wisconsin, and Oregon. Either white or orange is fine.
Don't uncork the rare vintage Bordeaux for this one! A simple, straightforward dish needs a wine with the same qualities. Find a Beaujolais-Villages from France or a California wine made from the fruit-filled Gamay or Mourvèdre grape and chill it before serving.