Creamy Mac and Cheese
The creamiest mac and cheese ever! You’re going to LOVE the panko crumb topping, it adds so much crunch and flavor to the whole thing. Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food!
Can we all just take a minute to stare at this deliciously creamy and decadent mac and cheese that is just speaking to me right now.
TGIF folks! I am ready for a big bowl of comfort and the TV remote, it has been one heck of a week! <– Talk about a dorky Friday night. You know you’re getting older when you’re idea of a fun Friday night involves dinner and a movie, at home, in your PJs, with your neighbors and best friends. I live for the comfy moments in life.
And this little mac and cheese number fits right into that lifestyle of mine.
This macaroni and cheese recipe is going to please everyone. Unless, your idea of good mac involves le lobster, and le expensive cheese. If that’s the case, maybe this isn’t the mac and cheese recipe for you. If you’re looking for a fancy schmancy, Ina Garten-esque recipe complete with gruyere and gouda – look elsewhere because this! This is your classic mac, complete with parmesan and sharp cheddar.
And of course, i’ve topped it with a toasted panko/parmesan/garlic topping that just makes the whole thing worth eating 365 days of the year for every meal of the day.
Errr. Balance? Can we not speak such profanity when it comes to comfort food.
Confessing my weekly food binge in… 3…2…1 I made a huge casserole dish full of this stuff, I shared a little with the besties downstairs and the rest of it just disappeared! No really. It did. The hubby and I have all the self control in the world when it comes to food -UNLESS- cheese and garlic are involved. At that point, it all goes flying out the door.
And while i’m getting things off my chest, let me also add that I totally despise mac and cheese that claims to be ‘creamy’ and ends up being a big goopy-glopy mess. I want my mac and cheese to have more than enough cheese sauce so that it’s not the least bit dry.
The crumb topping will eventually soak up a bit of the cheese sauce if you’ve got leftovers so it’s important for it to be a little liquid when prepared. To make perfect macaroni and cheese, we’re doing just a quick 8 minute bake on this. Keep in mind that everything is cooked. The breadcrumbs are toasted previously, the cheese sauce, and macaroni as well, so all we’re doing is heating it through one final time.
With the weather starting to cool down just a tad bit around here, I wanted to get out my favorite comfort food recipes to share with you all.
I served up my mac and cheese with a little salad on the side and we called it a meal. But it’s perfect for potlucks, and dare I say, Thanksgiving, which will be here before we know it.
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon EACH: salt AND garlic powder
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
macaroni and cheese:
- 11 ounces elbow macaroni (or cavatappi)
- 2 tablespoons EACH: salted butter AND all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon EACH: garlic powder AND mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 ½ cups EACH: milk AND freshly shredded cheddar (mild, sharp, whatever you like)
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- TOPPING: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, when the butter starts to crackle, add the panko and toast for 4-7 minutes or until the panko just starts to brown. Remove from heat, combine the toasted panko in a small bowl with the salt, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese, set aside.
- MACARONI AND CHEESE: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. Grease medium baking dish, set aside. Prepare the pasta according to package directions, minus 1-2 minutes from al dente time. The pasta will cook just a bit when it goes into the cheese sauce so don't cook all the way to al dente. Drain, and set aside.
- Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat, add the butter and allow it to melt and crackle. Add the flour and allow the flour to cook out the raw flavor, about 1 minute. Add the garlic powder and onion powder, cook for an additional 30 seconds or until you can smell the mixture. Whisk in the milk. Allow the milk to thicken, about 8-10 minutes. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping too much. Wipe the spoon with your finger, if the sauce stays separated, it's done. Remove from heat. Stir in the parmesan and cheddar immediately, taste for seasonings adjust to taste. Add the prepared pasta and stir to combine. Dump the pasta into prepared baking dish and top with the prepared panko topping.
- Bake the macaroni and cheese for 8 minutes, uncovered. Keep and eye on it so the panko topping does not burn. Serve warm.