Friday, February 29, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese

I think macaroni & cheese is one of those foods that everyone’s Mom made in a different way. I never remember my Mom making macaroni & cheese. It was not something that was in our house when I was growing up. Not even the blue box. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized this was a real staple food for lots of families. I have experimented over the years and made quite a few versions, one being the Cooks Illustrated version that actually turned out horrendous.

I found this recipe in my Yankee magazine years ago and had it tucked into one of the pouches in my recipe binder, always glancing past it thinking, I should try that. Well tonight I did and I was pleasantly surprised. This produces a velvety smooth cheese sauce topped with a crunchy panko breadcrumb topping. The traditional elbow macaroni is absent too. This recipe suggested penne, rigatoni or ziti be used.

Macaroni & Cheese

Yankee Magazine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
8 ounces pasta (that’s half a box)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoon flour
2 cups milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

2 cups sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 350. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add panko and stir until coated. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, stopping 2 minutes shy of suggested cooking time (just make sure it’s very al dente).

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat; whisk in the flour until smooth. Mix 1 minute being careful not to let the mixture brown. Gradually add the milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened and starts to bubble (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat, add salt, peppers, and cheese, whisking until the cheese is melted.

Add the pasta then spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until bubbly.

I doubled this recipe cause a half a box of pasta just won’t cut it in this house with all the boys I’m feeding. I didn’t double the panko topping and there was just enough. Next time I might double it cause the crunchy top is my favorite part.

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