So, my week has been so BUSY and kind of stressful. Sound familiar? Are you having a week like that too? I have a solution. The solution is this Deeee-licious Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Carve an hour out of your busy schedule and make old fashioned, traditional Macaroni and Cheese with a crispy, chewy panko bread crumb, cheesey topping.
Yes, I’m encouraging emotional eating. Not all the time. Just on Wednesday nights when your half way through the week and one little dish of cheesey carbs and Netflix might give you the strength to get to Friday!
I mean just look at it
It’s kind of hard not to let your worries melt away into that Béchamel sauce. Am I right? Yeah. I’m right.
Really, it’s not like there’s a healthy reason to eat Macaroni and Cheese. For the….ummm…calcium? Yesssssssss…the calcium *Cue evil laugh*
One thing about this Macaroni and Cheese that makes it a great candidate for comfort food is that it’s easy and not stressful to make.
You just make the sauce, make the pasta throw it together and throw the topping…on top! Let it get nice and hot in the oven and you’re overeating your way to temporary respite from the week. Did I mention it’s Dee-licious?
I’ve tried a few stovetop recipes that were good, but I really think that under cooking the pasta, and then letting it finish in the oven lets it absorb more cheese flavor. When you make it on the stovetop, no matter how flavorful the cheese sauce is, it just doesn’t absorb the same way.
Baked Macaroni for life!
I’m telling you, the topping is the best part. I used half cheddar, half parmesan. The cheddar melts and gives it a good texture, while the parmesan packs a super salty flavor punch. You can’t taste it as much in the sauce, because it has been somewhat tamed by all that milk (and butter…)
Also, if you don’t have fresh nutmeg, I promise it’s worth the trip to the grocery store. It’s SOOOO good! It really compliments the creamy sauce well. Do it…
Plus one little nugget of nutmeg will last you like 3 decades.
It’s great for potlucks and parties because it’s easy to transport, everyone loves it (especially kids) and you can customize it a million different ways.
I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart. My favorite thing I took away from her version is to heat up the milk before you add it to the roux. I always added cold milk in the past, which really slowed down the process. I love learning little tricks like that! Leave it to Martha.
What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge in the middle of the week?
- FOR THE CASSEROLE:
- 16 oz elbow macaroni pasta
- ¼ cup unsalted butter + extra for casserole dish
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1½ cups white sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ¾ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbl unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup white sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 375. Coat the inside of a 9X13" casserole dish with butter.
- Add milk to a saucepan over medium heat and cook until barely simmering.
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter.
- Add flour and whisk constantly until roux is golden brown and smells fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Slowly add hot milk to roux, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until mixture starts to bubble.
- Add cheese, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Whisk until cheese is melted and fully combined.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Take off heat
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Cut off a minute or two from cooking time so the pasta is slightly underdone.
- Combine ingredients for topping and set aside.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss to combine.
- Add sauce coated pasta to casserole dish and top with bread crumb mixture
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, uncovered, until casserole is heated all the way through and topping is golden brown.
- Let cool for 10 minutes and serve hot.