Gourmet Baked Macaroni and Cheese

By Jackie DeKnock  ,

June 28, 2015

This Mac ‘n Cheese has a personality to it, it’s definitely not from a box. It will comfort you and wake up your taste buds.

  • Yields: Serves 12

Ingredients

For topping

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups panko* (Japanese bread crumbs) or coarse dry bread crumbs

1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 4 ounces)

For cheese sauce

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

2 ¾ cups whole milk

3/4 cups heavy cream

4 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 1 pound)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound elbow macaroni

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF and butter a 3-quart baking dish; set aside.

2. Make topping: Melt butter and in a bowl stir together with panko or regular bread crumbs and Cheddar until combined well.

3. Make sauce: In a 5-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and stir in flour and red pepper flakes. Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes and whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in cream, Cheddar, mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Remove pan from heat.

4. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 2-3 minutes less than the manufacturer's directions, until al dente. Drain the macaroni – reserve ½ cup cooking water - and rinse under cold water, drain again. Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce and slowly add the reserved cooking water to make a nice ‘saucey’ consistency. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the topping evenly over macaroni and bake in middle of oven until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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= Everyday deliciously simple. Pretty quick, just get the food on the table pronto!
= Put your heart into it! Takes a little more time ‘n TLC!
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= Spam (aka low budget)
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