This is by far, completely, one-hundred percent, the husband's favorite dish I make for him. Birthdays. Celebrations. Holidays. I know what's a must on the menu. A little friendly heads up that the reason this dish is limited to special occasions, you can guess, is because it takes a few months to work off the caloric intake.
Meh. Live a little.
When roux is involved, there is an expectation of difficulty. But, really. It's just melted butter and flour. And I use rice flour because it doesn't usually make clumps. So this recipe's steps are really, make a cheese sauce, put it on cooked pasta, top it with something crunchy and crisp it under the broiler. Easy peasy.
I used to bake my mac and cheese for about 30 minutes to make everything set together, but holy cow, it was dry a minute after it cooled down. Reheating the leftovers was even more sad. But now, my two tricks are keeping it creamy and adding a tiny ninja kick with the ground mustard and paprika. Let's not call it a kick. More like a ninja kiss. Unexpected and lovely.
Mac and Cheese
About 4-6 servings
1 lb. dried penne pasta
1 cup whole milk
3 Tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons rice flour
3-4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz parmesan cheese, shredded
1 Tablespoon ground mustard
1 cup panko crumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
- Bring water to a boil in a pot and add the penne pasta. Cook for about 9-12 minutes and drain the water.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a small pot to medium heat to start the cheese sauce. Put in the butter and completely melt it, without turning brown. Add in the flour and quickly start stirring for about 3 minutes. Add in the cup of milk, sharp cheddar cheese, ground mustard and black pepper. Slowly stir, scraping the bottom of the pot so the cheese sauce doesn’t burn, for about 10-15 minutes until all the cheese is melted.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the penne pasta and stir together. Put into a baking dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the top.
- Combine the panko crumbs, paprika, salt and olive oil together and stir with a fork. Sprinkle all over the top.
- Turn on the broiler on high and put the baking dish on the top rack in the oven. Crisp the top until golden brown, for about 5 minutes. Take out of the oven and let the dish sit for about 5-10 minutes to set and cool down.
- Rice flour is used because it’s less likely to clump, but regular flour can be used instead.
- While the mac and cheese is browning in the oven, keep a close eye on it to avoid burning.