Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

It's Lent again, and that means coming up with meatless meals for Friday nights if you are Catholic!  Last year, I shared a couple of our favorite meatless meals (that I cook all year not just during Lent).  But I forgot to include my all-time favorite meatless meal and that is Baked Macaroni and Cheese!  I like simple mac and cheese, and this recipe is classic.  I made a few changes to my original recipe until I found the combination of ingredients that I like best!

Your Shopping List for the Baked Macaroni and Cheese:

  • 1 pound Cavatappi Pasta
  • 1 stick Butter, divided
  • 4 tbsp Flour
  • 5 cups Whole Milk
  • 5 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used Sharp Cheddar)
  • 2 cups Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • salt and pepper

Now Let's Make the Baked Macaroni and Cheese:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 casserole dish
  2. In a small bowl, melt 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) of butter.  Stir panko breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese into the butter.  Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp each) - set aside
  3. In a large pot of salted water, cook the Cavatappi Pasta until 3-4 minutes shy of al dente - drain and set aside
  4. In a separate large pot or dutch oven, melt 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) of butter over medium heat
  5. Whisk the flour into the butter, then whisk in the salt and pepper (I do about 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper)
  6. Once the flour/butter mixture is bubbly, add the 5 cups of whole milk, whisking often until mixture has thickened (you will notice that it starts to coat your whisk) and tiny bubbles appear on the surface
  7. Add the grated cheddar cheese and whisk until completely smooth (I usually add cheese in two batches
  8. Add the pasta into the cheese mixture - it will seem like there is a lot of cheese sauce and there should be!  The pasta will finish cooking in the oven and absorb a lot of the sauce!
  9. Pour into prepared casserole dish
  10. Top with breadcrumb mixture
  11. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until the edges of the casserole are nice and brown

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