By Katie Workman of Cookstr.com
If you’ve been a slave to that blue box of mac and cheese, you owe it to yourself and your family to whip up a vat of homemade mac and cheese once in a blue moon. I keep changing up the cheese, depending on what I have lying around, and it never tastes the same twice, which I find part of the thrill. You should by all means toss in other interesting cheeses that you have around, like goat cheese, Fontina, Manchego, even that leftover hunk of brie (remove all rinds you wouldn’t want to see floating around your mac and cheese).
The Dijon mustard and red pepper flakes give this a little kick, a little edge, and save this dish from being too intensively rich and creamy (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This photo shows the topping-free version.
And, no, this isn’t low fat. Thanks for asking.
For the topping (optional):
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 1 /2 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar or Gruyere cheese
For the pasta and sauce:
- 1 1/2 pound ziti, penne, or any short pasta
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 4 1/2 cups 2% or whole milk (however indulgent you’re feeling)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 cups coarsely grated firm flavorful cheese (this is the part where you use up whatever you have around; some good basic cheeses to start with are extra-sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, and Swiss)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Read the rest of this entry