Cheese, Please

I haven’t always been a fan of mac and cheese. The awful Kraft powdered cheese in a box did me in as a kid. Lately, I’ve started making homemade macaroni and cheese–it’s nothing like the Kraft version, and I actually enjoy it. 
This week, I went for a baked version a la Pioneer Woman. I changed it up a little, but I kept her basic idea. She added mustard powder, I went for plain yellow mustard (it was what I had in the house). She went with all cheddar cheese, I added some Parmesan and others. The principle was the same: make a roux, add some cheese, stir in not-quite-cooked macaroni, put into buttered baking pan, top with Parmesan, cheddar, and bread crumbs. Bake until nice and melty. Crank up the broiler and brown the bread crumbs.
Here is my initial, layered dish. It’s got the cheesy noodles topped with Parmesan, covered in cheddar, and then sprinkled with bread crumbs. For me, the bread crumbs are the kicker. They are absolutely necessary; Pioneer Woman didn’t add them, but I’m not one to question her. 
Yummy, cheesy goodness. Well, it should have been. I waited too long between the roux and the baking. It got a little more dry that I would have liked. Everyone who ate it liked it, though.
Just in case vague isn’t your style, here’s what I actually did. 
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
4 cups dried macaroni (I just used a full bag, I didn’t check to see how much it was)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons (I just squirted a little) yellow mustard
1 pound cheese, grated (I used Sharp Cheddar, Mild Cheddar, & Fontina)
Salt, to taste
Seasoned salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • Cook macaroni until not-quite-done. Drain (if you don’t drain it, it will continue to soak up water and loose its firm-ness).
  • In small bowl, beat the egg. Set aside. 
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter and add flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful not to let it burn.
  • Pour in milk, cream, and mustard; whisk until smooth. Cook until very thick. Reduce heat to low.
  • Scoop 1/4 cup of the cooked mixture and slowly pour it into the beaten egg; whisk constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Whisk together till smooth.
  • Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
  • Add in cheese and stir to melt.
  • Add salt, pepper, and other desired spices to taste. 
  • Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
    Pour into a buttered baking dish.
  • Top with Parmesan, Cheddar, and bread crumbs.  
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top (the bread crumbs will probably not be browned yet). 
  • Turn the broiler on and brown bread crumbs for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Try it out and let me know how it goes! I’d love to hear your variations and changes.

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