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Baked Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

1lb package medium shells, rotini, or penne pasta
2 cups cream
2+1/4 cups grated cheese (I use 1+1/4 cup asiago, 1/2 cup white cheddar, and 1/2 cup gruyere)
1/4 cup panko
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP flour
1 tsp each salt, pepper, and nutmeg

Addition options to make it a main dish:

  • 1 cooked shredded chicken breast

  • 1/2lb cooked chopped bacon

  • Meat of 1 cooked lobster or 2 tails - I like to butter poach the lobster, chop it in large chunks, and add it right at serving

  • 1 cup cubed ham

  • 2 cups chopped spinach/mixed greens

  • 1 cup chopped brocolli or cauliflower

  • 1 diced onion + 1 diced bell pepper, sauteed before adding to bake

  • Use crushed French's fried onions instead of panko

  • 1/2lb cooked chopped sausage


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. In a medium saucepan over med-low heat, make a roux using the butter and flour. Whisk until bubbly.
3. Add cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg to roux. Continue whisking.
4. Cook pasta until hard al dente (2-3 minutes less than recommended cooking time).
5. When cream is bubbly, add 2c cheese (setting aside 1/4 cup) and whisk until cheese is melted. If you want more/thinner sauce, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to cheese sauce.
6. Drain pasta and return to pot.
7. Add meat, veggies, and sauce. Stir well.
8. Pour into 9x9" pan and top with panko and last 1/4c of cheese.
9. Bake 20-30 minutes until topping is lightly browned.