Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
I wait all summer long for cooler temps and the chance to make this homey comfort food. The rich creamy flavor and texture is nostalgic and will have your family clamoring for more. Nothing says love like homemade Mac and cheese. The bread crumb crust used to be a family discussion until everyone grew to love the crispy-buttery topping. Now everyone fights for the topping. Use the best quality cheese you can find-do not skimp and by all means, have some fun with it and try your favorite cheeses. I have made this dish with a sprinkling of Blue cheese for an adult version. I also have substituted whole wheat pasta instead of the traditional semolina pasta and no one complained. Attention all comfort food cravers-Skip the box and go for the good stuff-we are after all adults even if we need a bit of comfort now and then.
Serves 6 generously
1 pound macaroni or favorite pasta shape
3 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 shallot, minced finely
2 cloves garlic minced finely
2 cups of milk (I use whole milk for this)
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese-grated (I use White Sharp Cheddar)
1 cup Emmentaler or Swiss cheese-grated
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup of sour cream
½ cup bread crumbs-Panko* is perfect for this
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Bring a large saucepan with water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (about 10 minutes depending upon size of pasta). Drain and set aside.
2. Place a large sauté over medium low heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add chopped shallot and garlic and sweat the vegetables until they are very soft (about 2 minutes). Add flour and stir together. Cook the mixture for several minutes to remove the raw flour flavor.
3. In a separate pan heat the milk until simmering. Add all at once to flour mixture. Whisk to prevent lumps. Add the hot sauce and cook until thickened (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat. Add grated cheese and stir until melted and incorporated.
4. Stir sour cream with cooked pasta. Add cheese mixture and stir to combine. Place in a lightly greased casserole.
5. Stir bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake at 350 until bubbly and golden (about 30 minutes).