Mac-n-cheese, these three words make my two children so happy, especially when it comes from a box with powdered cheese. I have to admit, that powdered cheese is not half bad, but it never compares to homemade mac-n-cheese for me…which I hope my children will say someday as well.
When I was young, I lived for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – there was nothing better. When I would visit my grandmother at the beach, she would let us have it for lunch every day – it was like a dream come true. Since I rarely shop anywhere besides Trader Joes and Whole Foods, my kids have grown up with Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese. A few years ago when we were up at Whistler, they asked for Mac-n-cheese for dinner – so I went to the store, and they only had Kraft. I actually didn’t think they would like it – boy was I wrong, they were in love – they loved it so much they asked if I could buy some and bring it home with us. I told them that I didn’t think the border police would allow it – and that it was just something that would have to enjoy when in Canada. Oh the things we tell our children…
I am always trying to get them to see the light though – and will try any Mac-n-Cheese recipe I see, just to get them to branch out a bit – and eat some real cheese. I found this recipe in Bon Appetit – and it was a huge hit – even the shallot topping which I was sure my younger daughter would protest. She said that was her favorite part. I adapted it heavily below to fit my kids style, but it was still made from real cheese. This is definitely a keeper.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Mac and cheese:
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 cups (packed) coarsely grated extrasharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 3 cups (packed) coarsely grated Fontina cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
- 8 cups cooked pasta
- Chopped fresh Italian parsley (optional)
For breadcrumb topping:
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 5 minutes. Mix in breadcrumbs. Cool.
For mac and cheese:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute (do not brown). Gradually whisk in milk and bring to simmer. Cook until sauce thickens, 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk 2 cups cheddar, 2 cups Fontina, and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano into sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in pasta; remove from heat. Mix 1 cup cheddar, 1 cup Fontina, and 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano in small bowl. Layer half of pasta mixture, then cheese mixture in baking dish; repeat. Sprinkle with breadcrumb topping. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until topping is golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Top with chopped parsley(optional).
For a printer-frieldn version of this recipe, please click here: Mac and Cheese with Shallot Breadcrumb Topping