MEATLESS MONDAY: Mac & Cheese
Have I got a killer mac n’ cheese recipe for you. Who doesn’t love mac n’ cheese, particularly of the homemade variety! I order mac n’ cheese whenever it’s on the menu (it’s a quasi addiction). There’s nothing better than perfectly cooked noodles coated in a thick cheese sauce with a flavorful and crispy crust. You can’t beat that combination.
Even though my journey with mac n’ cheese started out with the blue box and progressed to easy mac in college, you gotta start somewhere. I’ve been doing a variation on this recipe for about a year, and I’m so extremely proud of this one. Took a few times to work out all the kinks, but now I can share the recipe with you!
It’s great as an entrée with a nice green salad, perfect for a side dish, and awesome for late night snacks! And with Thanksgiving and all your potluck parties coming up soon, this mac n’ cheese will be a hit! It’s incredibly rich and creamy and cheesy…I mean..I’m getting hungry writing this post. So here’s the recipe!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese (serves 4)
Recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti
1/2 lb. of elbow macaroni
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T fresh rosemary, chopped
2 T butter
3 T all purpose flour
1 T dry mustard powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
2 cups milk (I used 2 percent, but you could use whole)
12 oz cheese (I use half sharp cheddar and half pepperjack), shredded
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Get a pot of water over high heat and cook your macaroni until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles, but keep a little bit (a few tablespoons) of pasta water.
While the pasta is cooking, get started on the sauce. Heat a little bit of oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until soft. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook until it’s really fragrant. Season with salt and lots of pepper. Add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the flour and stir everything together. The flour should absorb all the fat and the pan should look relatively dry. Cook for about 2 minutes to get the flour taste out. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk until there are no lumps. Let the mixture come to a boil and thicken. Once the milk is thick, add the mustard powder, paprika, nutmeg, and cheese. Reduce the heat to simmer and let the cheese melt. Taste the sauce. It may need more salt. I put a whole lot of black pepper in (almost a 1/2 tablespoon) because I love it in mac n’ cheese.
Once the sauce is done, pour the noodles and pasta water in and toss it together to get all the pasta coated in the sauce.
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.
Combine the panko, parmesan, thyme, and paprika together in a bowl. Transfer the pasta to an 8 x 8 in baking dish (or whatever you have) and spread all the breadcrumb mixture over the top evenly. Bake in the oven until the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Here’s a close picture of the crust:
There’s nothing more satisfying than great mac n’ cheese. I hope you enjoy this recipe and try it out soon, especially for the holidays!