Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Three-Cheese Mac and Cheese

Homemade macaroni and cheese probably doesn't sound like a very "summertime centric" selection for a July meal.

But, when your summer includes getting a tooth pulled? Then maybe you'd be looking for soft comfort food, too.

It was one of those recipes that catches your eye as you're strolling through Facebook. C'mon ... you know you do it, too. My mouth was throbbing, and a summer salad just wasn't going to make the cut for a few meals.

So when the recipe said The BEST Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese? Of course, I clicked. (Yes, BEST was capitalized in the recipe's title, so how could I resist?)

Sharp Cheddar cheese is a staple in my refrigerator, but I didn't have Gruyere cheese. So I substituted Swiss. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I know I can't get Gruyere cheese at my Stafford grocery store. Actually, I think I'd have to go to the big cheese counter at the super-sized Dillon's to even find any in Hutchinson. 

The topping included Parmesan cheese along with the panko and butter, so it gave it an extra boost of cheese flavor. The recipe didn't disappoint. Because it didn't use processed American cheese, it wasn't quite as smooth as recipes using that as an ingredient. However, the sharp Cheddar and Swiss, combined with some Parmesan flavor on top, gave a big boost of taste.

And even though Randy didn't get a tooth pulled, he liked it. too.  (He had a side of ham to go with his mac and cheese.) If you try it, let me know what you think!

Three-Cheese Baked Mac & Cheese
Modified from Mom on Timeout blog

16 oz. pasta (elbow, rotini, etc.)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 cups sharp Cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
2 cups Gruyere cheese (freshly grated) * 
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
*I substituted Swiss cheese for Gruyere.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3- or 4-quart baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. 

Shred your own cheeses; already grated cheeses don't melt as well. After both kinds of cheese are grated, combine and set aside.

Cook the pasta about 1 minute shy of al dente, according to package directions. While pasta is cooking prepare cheese sauce. (If you don't have the cheese sauce completed when the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and coat it with the olive oil; set aside until ready to combine with cheese sauce.)

To prepare cheese sauce: Melt butter in a deep saucepan or large skillet. Whisk in flour over medium heat and continue whisking for about 1 minute until bubbly and golden. Gradually whisk in the milk and heavy cream until smooth. Continue whisking until you see bubbles on the surface. Continue cooking and whisking for another 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups of shredded cheese and whisk until smooth. Add another 2 cups of shredded cheese and continue whisking until creamy and smooth. (Retain 2 cups cheese.) Sauce should be smooth and thick.
Stir in the pasta until combined and pasta is fully coated with the cheese sauce. Pour half of the mac and cheese into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining 2 cups of shredded cheese and then top with remaining mac and cheese. 
In a small bowl, combine panko, Parmesan, melted butter and paprika. Sprinkle over top and bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

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