(Recipe can be found on Panera Bread’s site here.)
Step by Step Instructions:
This traditional mac ‘n cheese includes the following ingredients: Milk (Skim milk for me, but you could also use half-n-half or cream), 16 ounces of pasta (I love eating mac ‘n cheese with big elbow-style macaroni), hot sauce (I went with Frank’s hot sauce), Dijon Mustard, Salt, 4 tablespoons of butter, 1/3 cup of flour, extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (8 ounces), and 4 ounces of white American cheese.
I started out by starting a large pot of water boiling. Then I shredded the 8 ounces of cheddar cheese – after all, cheese is the most important part of this dish (and most dishes for that matter), at least in my book.
I weighed out the American cheese slices until I had 4 ounces.
Next I measured 2 1/2 cups of milk.
At this point my water was boiling, so I began cooking the pasta according to the package directions.
In a large pan, I began melting the 4 tablespoons of butter.
Once the butter is melted, you will need to whisk in 1/3 cup of flour. You want to cook the flour taste out of it, so once it’s combined cook the butter/flour mixture (also called a roux) for 1-2 minutes.
Then I slowly added the milk in about 3 or 4 batches and mixed in between adding with my whisk to prevent any lumps.
Then turn the heat down to medium-low and cook the mixture until it’s nice and thick and bubbly – about 8 minutes. Be sure to whisk frequently to lumps away.
When the sauce is done, remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese a little at a time. You’ll want to stir until the cheese is fully melted and then add more cheese until all of the cheese is melted into the sauce…
…until it’s deliciously cheesy like this!
Finally add that additional kick of flavor with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons or more of Dijon mustard (whatever you prefer), and then 1/4 teaspoon of hot sauce (or more for an extra kick). Next time I may add more hot sauce. 🙂
The sauce will be nice and creamy. You can taste it and adjust the seasonings as you would prefer.
Then return the pan to the heat and add the cooked, drained pasta to the cheese sauce…
…and stir it all up until the pasta is fully coated in that delightful sauce! Then cook for another minute or two and server up your pasta and enjoy! Something I’ll probably do next time is add some cooked broccoli so I can make more of a meal out of it. Can’t wait to try this one again. Plus it makes quite a bit of food, so you’ll have plenty for a large group or lots of leftovers!
Makes 4-6 servings
1 (16-ounce) package of rigati pasta (or other small pasta shells)
¼ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups 2% reduced fat milk (or cream)
6 slices white American cheese, chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
3. Gradually whisk in milk (or cream); cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated).