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There’s a special place in my heart, and on my hard drive, for macaroni and cheese.
See, I have extremely fond memories of the Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe my Mom made near weekly for my brothers, Dad and me growing up. It was made with Velveeta, natch, and was as creamy and decadent as all get out.
After she’d pull the steaming casserole dish from the oven, my Dad would take the first, crusty scoop, leaving the rest of us to fight over the most-desirable creamy, center scoop.
Ahh, I can see the mayhem in my mind now…
Her recipe is so near and dear to my heart, that it feels rather sacrilege to keep, gulp, an entire document of just macaroni and cheese recipes I want to try on my computer desktop. I know.
Sorry, but so little time – so many mac & cheese recipes! From Chicken Bacon Mac, Buffalo Mac & Cheese, Gnocchi Mac & Cheese,
Three Four Five-Cheese Mac & Cheese, I want to try it all.
Tonight, on what may finally be the official start of winter around here (temps dropping! wind howling! flurries flying!) I decided to start crossing some of the cozy, comforting recipes off my list, starting at the top with Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Topping.
This mac & cheese recipe is incredible. Thick, rich, velvety-smooth, and with just a hint of savory garlic. MMM!
Start by crisping panko bread crumbs in a little butter and seasonings, then cook your favorite pasta shape in salted, boiling water. Drain the pasta, set it aside, and in the same pot toast fresh garlic and spicy red chili pepper flakes in a bit more butter. Then whisk in flour and let it cook for a minute.
Next, slooooowly stream in chicken broth and milk, and let the mixture cook until it’s thick, and bubbly.
Then get ready to do the damn thing.
Add in that CHEESE that you know you wanna!
Melty, gooey, stringy, sharp cheddar and colby jack cheeses.
Stir in the cooked noodles, pour into a baking dish, top with the bread crumbs, and bake until golden brown and bubbly.
Oh my word!
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Topping
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
For the crunchy topping:
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
For the macaroni and cheese:
1/2lb cut pasta, any shape
2 Tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
dash red chili pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
1 3/4 cups 2% milk
1/2lb colby jack cheese, shredded
4oz sharp 2% cheddar cheese, shredded
1. For the crunchy topping: melt butter in a skillet over medium heat, then add in panko bread crumbs. Cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley flakes, salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
2. For the macaroni and cheese: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil, season with salt and add in pasta. Cook until pasta begins to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. Return the pot to the stove, add butter and melt over medium heat. Add in garlic and red chili pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add in flour and whisk for 1 additional minute.
4. Slowly whisk chicken broth and milk into the flour mixture in batches, whisking until mixture is smooth between each batch. After all the liquid has been incorporated, stir constantly and cook until thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
5. Add cheeses and stir until sauce is smooth. Stir in cooked pasta and pour the macaroni and cheese into a non-stick sprayed 8×8 baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15-20 more minutes, or until breadcrumbs are crisp and sides are golden brown and bubbly.
Ben called the thick and velvety cheese sauce outstanding, while I called the crunchy, buttery topping hmpf murghmpf. That’s “omg, right?!” with a mouth full of over the top mac and cheese.
While Mom’s macaroni and cheese will always be #1 in my heart, some other recipes might be getting eaten with my mouth in the near future.
I can’t wait.
What’s your Mom’s #1 recipe?