My kids are always asking me for macaroni & cheese so the other night I pulled out a cookbook and decided to make a fancy version. It had Gruyere and mascarpone cheese, rigatoni noodles, and lots of butter- YUM. I couldn’t wait to make it and watch them gobble it up. Well, it didn’t exactly turn out as I had hoped… When I served this decadent, delicious dish, much to my surprise, I had an absolute MUTINY on my hands. “This is not Mac & Cheese!” “The pasta is the wrong shape!” “Why isn’t it orange?” It was pretty brutal. But I wiped away the tears and gave it another shot.
This time I tried to go simple. I stuck to elbow macaroni and cheddar cheese. I was determined to turn this around! How could I serve my kids pasta and cheese and have them rebel? It just didn’t seem possible…. So back to the drawing board…
“The not so fancy version of Mac & Cheese”
1 lb dried ELBOW macaroni
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk (2% is fine too)
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp hot sauce
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp butter
Cook macaroni according to directions. Drain and set aside. This can be done ahead – just be sure to toss some olive oil in with the pasta before it is refrigerated.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in saucepan – when hot reduce heat to medium and add flour, stirring constantly. Add the milk a little at a time until it is well combined. Let the sauce come to a simmer and then add 2 cups of cheese and mustard. Whisk until cheese is completely melted. Stir in hot sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
In separate pan melt butter and add breadcrumbs. Heat until breadcrumbs are lightly toasted.
Put pasta into baking pan, add sauce and stir until well combined. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. And then sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of that.
Bake until lightly browned and bubbly – about 25-30 minutes.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (tough critic): “What are these crumbs on top!? No crumbs!”
Dylan (even tougher critic): “I don’t eat crumbs!”
Liam (the worst critic of the bunch): “I HATE mac & cheese”
I wish I was joking but that was the verdict. The breadcrumbs did me in! Happily once I scraped off the offensive “crumbs” they did eat their dinner. And Dylan even ate 2 servings of broccoli so all in all a SUCCESS!