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Cheesy, Creamy Baked Mac & Cheese

My current mac and cheese recipe! If you remember the last time I posted my mac and cheese video (about 2 years ago), I mentioned that I’m always switching up the ingredients and process I use for mac and cheese – be it the types of cheeses, using a roux or not, adding bread crumbs or not, etc… rarely did I ever do the same exact thing twice! That might have changed though because this is now my favorite way I’ve made mac and cheese I think… ever!!!

Ingredients:
16 oz uncooked pasta of choice (I used cellentani but sometimes do elbows)
1 1/2 stick (12 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, divided into 1/2 sticks, plus a little more to grease the baking dish
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
6 cups milk (I used whole – use more for a thinner sauce or less for a thicker result)
16 oz freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese (reserve a little to sprinkle over top before baking)
5 oz freshly grated gruyere cheese (reserve a little to sprinkle over top before baking)
1 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 and grease all sides of your baking dish with butter.
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Strain and reserve 1 cup pasta water (to add to the cheese sauce, if you want a thinner sauce)

2. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Stir with a fork to combine. In a shallow pan over medium heat, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Add the bread crumb mixture and toast until golden. Set aside.

3. In a deep pot, melt one stick of butter. Add in flour, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Once the mixture starts to bubble lightly, add in the milk and continue to whisk until thickened. Add in the shredded cheese and stir to combine. Add in the pasta water if you want a thinner consistency.

4. Add the pasta into the pot of cheese sauce and stir to coat evenly. Season with salt, pepper and paprika and stir. Pour into your buttered baking dish and top with additional shredded cheese. Finish by layering the panko breadcrumb topping, covering the entire dish.

5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until top layer of cheese has melted and breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

Using block cheese and shredding it yourself is very important! The added ingredients in pre-shredded cheese bags don’t allow for the same melty quality.
You can add freshly grated parmesan to the breadcrumb topping for additional flavor. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t.
As always – modify this to your own likes and needs! Use more or less of any ingredient based on your preferences.

Watch the video here: MAC AND CHEESE VIDEO

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