Mac & Cheese

Anyone who knows me will tell you that mac & cheese holds a special place in my heart. I have been known to eat mac & cheese for more than one meal in the same day. It is without a doubt one of my favourite dishes. So when a friend kindly gave me a cookbook all about mac & cheese for my birthday, I was eager to try it.

Recipe

adapted from The Mac + Cheese Cookbook
Serves 6-8

1 lb dried shell pasta
3 cups aged Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup panko (lightly toasted), optional

Sauce
2½ cup skim milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt

For sauce, heat milk/cream in pot over medium heat until it begins to bubble (but not boil). Remove from heat. Heat butter in a separate, heavy-bottomed pot. When melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until mixture is light brown. Remove from heat. Slowly pour the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. Once all milk has been added, put the pot back on the heat and whisk constantly until it becomes silky and thick. Add in the salt. The sauce can be used immediately or stored in the fridge for a couple of days.

In salted boiling water, cook pasta until just less than al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain a second time. Add in the sauce and cheeses to a large pot and cook over medium heat. Slowly add cooked pasta, stirring continuously until pasta is hot and steaming. Sprinkle toasted panko on top and serve.

Musings

It was, in a word, superb. We’d been subsisting quite happily on an amped-up version of Annie’s Mac & Cheese out of the box, but this was definitely a cut above. The use of shell, instead of elbow, pasta lent itself quite nicely to this dish, as the grooves in the shells held onto the sauce nicely. The sauce had a wonderful creamy texture to it (not too thick and not too thin). We are definitely keen to experiment with stronger cheeses and some of the other interesting variations in the cookbook (tuna salad! jalapeño popper!). This will absolutely become a staple in our household. Calling it a win.

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