Baked Macaroni & Cheese…
Creamy, cheesy and the ultimate comfort food. Not exactly healthy eating, but we feel very strongly about the “all-things-in-moderation” mantra.
It’s cheesy, it’s creamy, it’s covered in toasted breadcrumbs and topped with fresh herbs. This ain’t yo mama’s Kraft macaroni…
Speaking of mamas…my mom is a straight-up saint. Mainly because her love language is cooking food, and she never passes up an opportunity to bring a meal to a neighbor (or complete stranger) in need. This particular Baked Macaroni & Cheese was brought to a cute little family in our neighborhood who just had a baby. Might I say, they were in for a treat.
I have many childhood memories of hauling platters of food into people’s houses. My mom’s sick friend in need of some tomato soup, a neighbor who just had back surgery and desperately needed a homemade pizza to cheer them up, our window-washers who needed a chocolate chip cookie and some fresh lemonade to motivate them to finish the job (we had A LOT of windows…)
You get the point. Food = love to my mom, and let me tell you, none of us are mad about that. 😉 Especially when it involves this Baked Macaroni & Cheese.
- 16 ounces dried macaroni or other chunky pasta
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp. dried mustard
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- Several drops Tabasco sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 4 cups half and half
- 3 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (We use Tillamook Extra-Sharp White Cheddar)
- 2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Boil pasta in salted water for about 5 minutes, until not quite al dente. Drain and set pasta aside.
- In the same pot, over low heat, melt butter and add garlic, mustard, herbs and salt and pepper. Add flour and stir for about 30 seconds, until flour is incorporated.
- Slowly add chicken stock, stirring well, and half and half, and stir over low heat until slightly thickened. Add cheeses gradually, stirring, until melted.
- Stir pasta into sauce and adjust seasonings as needed. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.
- While pasta is cooking, make topping: Melt butter and toss with breadcrumbs and herbs until well mixed.
- After the pasta has baked 20 minutes, remove from oven and top with breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake another 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and topping is browned.
*Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. If refrigerated, set at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking, and add breadcrumb topping as usual during the baking process.
*This also freezes well for about a month. Thaw in the fridge before baking.