This is pure comfort food.
You can use any cheese that melts well for mac and cheese. You'll want to avoid using pre-shredded cheese. They are coated with anti-caking agents so they don't melt as welland can make your sauce grainy. Cheeses that melt well: Cheddar Mozzarella Gouda Havarti Gruyere Parmesan Brie Fontina Monterey Jack Colby Jack Pepper Jack Gorgonzola
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 45-50 minutes
Total time from start to finish: About an hour
What you need:
Non-stick cooking spray or a little extra butter to grease your baking dish
1 lb elbow noodles
2 TBS butter
1 c. Panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 TBS butter, melted
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup flour
4 cups milk, warmed
2 cups heavy cream, warmed
6 cups shredded cheese (don't use pre-shredded), approximately 16 oz
1 1/2 tsp salt (you should taste it after your sauce comes together and add more if needed. Cheese is salty, so be careful about adding more until you taste it.)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp white pepper (can use black if you prefer, but you will see the little black flecks in your pasta)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
A dash of nutmeg (optional)
9x13 baking pan
Large pot to boil noodles
Bowl to melt butter for topping
Strainer to drain the noodles
Medium, heavy-bottomed pot to make the sauce
Cheese grater or food processor
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray your baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or coat it will a little butter
Set out your cheese while you prep. It should be close to room temp.
Bring pasta to a boil, and cook for the time on the package minus 1 minute.
Mix in 2 TBS butter and set aside while you make the sauce
Melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat.
Once melted, add flour and cook while stirring constantly for about 2-3 minutes.
Whisk in your milk and cream. Whisk as you pour it in to avoid lumps.
Add your seasonings
Bring the mixture up to a slow boil, stirring frequently. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot to avoid burning.
Once you're about to dip a spoon into the sauce and drag a line down the back and the sauce doesn't run back over to fill in the clean spot, your sauce is ready for the cheese.
Take your pot off the heat and add your cheese, whisk it in. It doesn't have to be completely melted, but it will likely melt quickly.
Pour the sauce into the noodles and stir to combine.
Pour mac and cheese into your baking dish.
Mix Panko and Parmesan.
Melt 1 1/2 TBS butter and mix into the Panko/Parmesan mixture until combined.
Sprinkle topping over mac and cheese.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.