Who doesn’t like a cheesy, ooey, warm macaroni and cheese? It’s the very epitome of comfort food and a childhood staple for many. For a while now I’ve been looking for a good homemade mac and cheese and I’ve been largely disappointed until this creation! I made this on Christmas Eve and knew I was on to something when Jamison looked at it and said “That looks good!” He’s never shown any interest in homemade mac and cheese before. Sadly though he couldn’t taste it because it wasn’t gluten free, though I want to try a gluten free version in the near future for him! Then I took a bite and oh my! So good! This is definitely one to pull out when you want to wow them!
What You’ll Need:
1 – 16 ounce package of pasta (Note: You can use any kind that you like…shells, macaroni, twists, penne, etc. I used chiocciole, which are like big macaroni noodles.)
4 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups of milk (Note: You can use any type of milk you like. I used skim.)
1 teaspoon of onion powder
A small pinch of sea salt (Note: Cheese is sometimes salty so go easy on the salt.)
A generous pinch of black pepper
8 ounces of Fontina, shredded
5 ounces of cheddar, shredded (Note: You can use whatever level of cheddar that you like. I used extra sharp.)
5 ounces of Swiss, shredded
1 cup of Parmesan, grated
1 cup of Panko bread crumbs
(Note: You really need a kitchen scale for this recipe. It’s best to weight the amount of cheese. It can be a little over or a little under the weight (0.1 or 0.2 ounces here or there) it doesn’t have to be completely exact, but a kitchen scale is a nice tool to have for this.)
Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside.
Preheat your broiler.
In a large pot melt butter and then add flour and stir to mix. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds to a minute, but do NOT let it brown! Add milk, onion powder, salt and pepper and stir until mixture thickens slightly (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat when the mixture is slightly thickened and add cheeses and stir until completely melted.
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir gently until pasta is completely coated. Pour mixture into a 3 or 4 quart baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle the top of the macaroni with panko and Parmesan and broil for 3-4 minutes until top is golden. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.
Notes: There are all sort of variations you could do with this. You could add cayenne pepper instead of black. You could add in some salsa for a Mexican variety. You could play around with the cheeses. The possibilities are endless!