Creamy, semisoft cheese creates the ultimate comfort food, macaroni and cheese. Slideshow: Best Mac and Cheese in the U.S.
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain well.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the lard. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until bubbling but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the bay leaves and cook, stirring, until the roux is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth, then bring to a boil and simmer over moderate heat, whisking, until the sauce is thickened and no floury taste remains, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese until melted. Season the sauce generously with salt and pepper; discard the bay leaves.
In a large bowl, toss the penne with the hot cheese sauce and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch oval baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned on top. Let the macaroni and cheese stand for 5 minutes before serving.
The unbaked macaroni and cheese can be made earlier in the day and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Tomme de Savoie is a mild, semisoft cow-milk cheese.
This superb macaroni and cheese calls for a vibrant red wine to help cut through all the richness. Pour a Dolcetto d’Alba from Piedmont.