Recipe and photo courtesy of Kenny Gilbert, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, South Beach, Miami
1 pound torchio pasta*
1/4 pound butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Creole mustard
5 cups of milk
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely diced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
12 ounces medium cheddar, shredded
8 ounces Grayson cheese (from Meadow Creek Dairy, meadowcreekdairy.com)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 cups leftover bread crumbs (I like to use leftover cornbread)
4 ounces soft butter
Pinch of fine herbs
Salt & pepper to taste
1 large pinch shredded cheddar (reserved to top dish with)
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente (about 8 minutes). Remove and cool pasta immediately in refrigerator on a flat, cold sheet pan.
In a separate pot, melt the 1/4 pound of butter. Whisk in the flour, and stir the mixture constantly for about five minutes. Make sure mixture is free of lumps, and then stir in the milk, onion, bay leaves, mustard and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes, and then remove the bay leaves. Stir in the cheese in batches, being careful not to break the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fold the macaroni into the hot cheese, and pour into a 9-inch cast-iron casserole dish. Top with a large pinch of shredded cheddar.
For the topping: Melt the butter in a sauté pan, and toss the herbs, salt and pepper and bread crumbs to coat. Place a thin layer of the topping over the cheesy mac in the cast-iron dish, and place in oven. Bake approximately 12 to 15 minutes in a 450°F oven, or until lightly brown on top. Remove from oven, and serve.
*Torchio pasta: pasta that is made into a shape that appears similar to the base of a torch. Fusilli, rotini or penne could be substituted.