Ingredients for 6 servings:
5 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup minced shallots
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
8 ounces elbow macaroni (1 1/2 cups)
3 ounces (1 cup) grated cheddar cheese
3 ounces (1 cup) gruyere cheese
1/4 teaspoon tabasco
1/4 cup Panko crumbs and 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 quart gratin dish.
Bechamel: Heat the milk with bay leaf just to the simmer. Heat the butter in a saucepan and cook the shallots for two minutes. Add the flour, stir and cook for another two minutes. Off the heat, stir in the hot milk. Return the pan to the heat and cook slowly until the sauce is smooth. Off the heat, stir in the salt and pepper. Smooth a thin pat of butter over the top of the bechamel and reserve.
Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water following the directions on the package. Drain and hold in the saucepan.
Remove the bay leaf from the sauce bechamel and fold it into the pasta. Stir in the two cheeses. Pour the mixture into the prepared mold.
Melt the remaining tablespoon butter in a skillet. Add the Panko crumbs and stir until they turn golden. Sprinkle the crumbs over the pasta and cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly. Put under the broiler for 2 minutes to lightly brown.