Baked Macaroni and Cheese
This is a great recipe for kids, and grown-ups too!
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound elbow pasta, cooked and drained (I used mini penne)
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 cups shredded (5 ounces) yellow cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded (5 ounces) white cheddar cheese
8 ounces (250 g) cooked deli ham, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces (250 g) bacon, diced and cooked to a light brown
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375 °F (180 °C) degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart (4.5 liters) heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.
Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if using, and 1 cup each yellow and white cheddar cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Toss pasta with cheese mixture; fold in bacon and ham. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual dishes. Set aside.
Toss together the panko crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup each white and yellow cheddar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes.
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