The recipes in David Venable's debut cookbook, In the Kitchen with David, promise to "warm your heart, stir your soul, and happily fill your stomach." Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt found it to be "warm, chatty" and defined by its devotion to comfort.

According to the publisher, this is David's all-time favorite, and he serves it at every Thanksgiving.

My ultimate macaroni and cheese

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¾ pound cavatappi, rotini, or fusilli

  • 3 cups half-and-half

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded extra sharp Cheddar

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack

  • 8 ounces Velveeta, cubed

  • ¾ cup (1 ounce) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon paprika

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the half-and-half in a large saucepan over medium heat. Just before the mixture starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in 2 cups of the warm half-and-half. (This will keep the eggs from scrambling.)

Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Stir 1 cup of the Cheddar, all the mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Velveeta, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and the milk into the saucepan. Heat the saucepan on medium-low heat to help melt the cheese. Whisk in the mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Do not let the mixture boil.

Toss the cooked pasta and cheese sauce together and then pour into a 4-quart baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle an even layer of crumbled bacon on top and bake for 10 minutes more.

Recipe reprinted with permission from In the Kitchen with David © 2012 by David Venable, Ballantine. Read our review of this book.

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