Mac and Cheese with Shallot Breadcrumb Topping

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.

Ingredients

Breadcrumb topping:
  • 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)

Preparation

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

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