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
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
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.