There's a reason Macaroni and Cheese is a classic. It's because it's awesome. Especially when it's home made! This recipe might seem a little involved when there are so many quicker options for mac and cheese, but trust me, it's not that hard and the extra work is sooo worth it! This is a great dish for a potluck or summer picnic.

Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Annie's Eats

Serves 8-10
Bread crumb topping:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp dried parsley (I used an Italian Seasoning Mix cause it's all I had)
salt and pepper

Pasta and Sauce:
1 lb pasta shapes (I recommend shells!)
6 tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried mustard (if you don't have any, use 2-3  tsps yellow mustard)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 tbsp flour
2 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 1/2 cups milk
1 lb (16 oz) colby jack cheese, grated
8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

First make the bread crumb topping. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small sauce pan. Stir in the panko and heat until lightly browned. Turn off the heat and stir in the dried seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Next, start cooking your pasta. Bring your water to a boil and cook the pasta for only 5 minutes, you don't want it to cook completely. Drain the pasta and set aside.

In the same pot, melt the rest of the butter at medium-high. Add garlic, mustard, and cayenne pepper stirring for 30 seconds. Don't want to burn the garlic! Whisk in the flour and stir constantly until it becomes a golden paste. Pour in the chicken broth and milk, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble a bit. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cheeses, and keep stirring until they are completely melted. Taste it! Season with salt and pepper till it's the best cheese sauce you've ever tasted!  Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce. It will seem like waaaay too much sauce, but don't worry it will be just right after cooking in the oven.

Pour the pasta and cheese mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Top with the bread crumbs.   Bake 30-35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Be sure to put a cookie sheet under the dish so it will catch any cheesy goodness that bubbles out of the pan. When it's done, let cool and then dig in!

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