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Baked Mac and cheese

Introduction: There’s nothing quite like a good baked mac and cheese recipe. It’s the ultimate comfort food, perfect for cold days or when you just need something warm and cheesy to fill you up. This recipe is a classic, with a creamy cheese sauce, perfectly cooked pasta, and a crispy breadcrumb topping. It’s easy to make and sure to become a family favorite. So let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk, continuing to whisk until the mixture is smooth and has no lumps. Add in the salt, black pepper, ground mustard, and cayenne pepper, and whisk to combine.
  5. Cook the sauce for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until it has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until melted and smooth.
  7. Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir until well coated.
  8. Pour the mac and cheese into the prepared baking dish.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the mac and cheese.
  10. Bake the mac and cheese for 25-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and crispy.
  11. Let the mac and cheese cool for a few minutes before serving.

Tips:

  • Be sure to stir the cheese sauce constantly while cooking to prevent it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • If you don’t have panko breadcrumbs, you can use regular breadcrumbs or crushed crackers.
  • For a creamier mac and cheese, you can add a splash of heavy cream or half and half to the cheese sauce before adding the macaroni.
  • Leftover mac and cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven before serving.

Variation ideas: While the classic baked mac and cheese is delicious on its own, there are plenty of variations you can try to switch things up. For example, you can add cooked bacon or ham, caramelized onions, roasted vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower, or even seafood like crab or shrimp.

Cheese choices: While cheddar cheese is the most traditional choice for mac and cheese, you can also experiment with other types of cheese to add different flavors and textures. Gouda, fontina, gruyere, and parmesan are all great options to try.

Crumb topping: Adding a crispy breadcrumb topping to your mac and cheese can add a nice contrast in texture. You can make your own breadcrumbs by toasting stale bread and pulsing it in a food processor with some seasonings, or you can use store-bought breadcrumbs. Mix the breadcrumbs with some melted butter and sprinkle over the mac and cheese before baking.

Make-ahead tips: If you’re making baked mac and cheese for a crowd, you can prepare it in advance and then bake it when you’re ready to serve. Cook the pasta and make the cheese sauce, but don’t mix them together. Store the pasta and sauce separately in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake the dish. When you’re ready, mix the pasta and sauce together, pour into a baking dish, and bake as usual.

Leftover ideas: If you end up with leftover baked mac and cheese, don’t let it go to waste! You can reheat it in the oven or microwave, or you can use it in other dishes. For example, you can stuff it inside a grilled cheese sandwich, add it to a breakfast omelette, or use it as a base for a mac and cheese pizza.

By including these ideas in your blog post, you can provide your readers with plenty of inspiration and tips for making the best baked mac and cheese.

Conclusion: This baked mac and cheese recipe is a classic for a reason. It’s creamy, cheesy, and oh so comforting. With just a few simple ingredients and easy steps, you can make a delicious dish that everyone will love. Whether you’re serving it for dinner or taking it to a potluck, this recipe is sure to be a hit. So grab your ingredients and get cooking!

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