This ain’t no crap out of a blue box…

This is my Mamma’s mac’n’cheese!

Will you believe it when I tell you that I never had Kraft mac’n’cheese at home growing up? And I mean never. Ever.  Never ever.  My mom was a firm believer in the “none of that crap out of the box” philosophy, which I also adhere to (generally).

I won’t say I didn’t eat my fair share of EZ Mac in college, I practically lived off of the stuff!  But there is just sooooo little good and sooooo much absolute crap in it, I can’t bring myself to make it for Simon.  If I eat a box of it for dinner, with nothing else, I’m awake at 3am starving because there is so little nutritional value it literally can’t get me through the night.

On the other hand, we make baked mac’n’cheese on a regular basis.  This stuff will get you through the night. This stuff will get you through a marathon.  This stuff is not low fat in any way shape or form, so if you’re watching the calories…save it for a special evening.  This stuff is not for the lactose intolerant or anyone who avoids dairy.  This stuff is a calorie packed, high fiber, high fat bomb of cheesy goodness that never fails to make my husband grin.

Ingredients:

1 box whole wheat penne pasta
5 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all purpose flour
3 cups milk (we use 2%)
1 clove garlic, smashed
~2-3 cups grated cheddar (we used some fontina as well because it was on hand) + and additional 1/2 cup for topping
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
Tony Sacherie’s seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package instructions, but slightly undercook (just shy of al dente).  It will finish cooking in the oven.

2.  Warm milk in a saucepan on the stove with garlic clove. Remove garlic clove.

3. Meanwhile, melt 3 tbsp butter in a saucepan (or in your small dutch oven like mine that also serves as a baking dish)

4. Whisk in flour and cook briefly to get rid of flour flavor.

5. Whisk in heated milk a few ladle’s full at a time , whisking briskly to get rid of all the lumps.

6. REMOVE FROM HEAT once the milk has been incorporated.  It’s important not to add the cheese if the milk is almost boiling, because the cheese will separate and get all funky and grainy.  Add a handful of cheese, it should melt slowly as you stir.  Add the remainder of the cheese and stir until melted.

aaaaand….for some reason the photo isn’t uploading…sorry

7. If you made the sauce in your dutch oven then just dump in the pasta and stir to combine.

8. For the topping, melt remaining 2tbsp of butter in a bowl and add panko and a generous shaking of Tony’s to taste.   Sprinkle cheese evenly on top of pasta and then sprinkle the bread crumbs.

9. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or so, or until it’s all bubbly on the edges and the panko is browned.

10. Enjoy!

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