Yeah, she's really chipper...but I can be pretty chipper too, so I like Rach! I really enjoy her cookbooks, magazine, and TV show. She's someone who I'd love to hang out and cook with, ya know? When I saw her recipe for macaroni and cheese with garlic-infused panko breadcrumbs on top? I knew I had found just what I was looking for. I tweaked it a bit to go with the cheese that I had on hand. Feel free to sub in 2 cups of whatever combo of cheese you like and/or have in your kitchen. The original recipe called for gruyere, sharp cheddar, and fontina.
Garlic-Infused Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Rachael Ray
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Cook 12 ounces of penne pasta in well-salted water. While the pasta is cooking, make your crumb topping. In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tbs. butter over medium heat. Add 2 cloves finely minced or grated garlic and let it infuse in the butter -- but don't brown it. Remove the melted garlic butter to a bowl. Add 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup grated parm-reggiano, and 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. Set aside while you make the sauce.
Step 2: Melt another 3 tbs. butter in the same medium saucepan. Add 1 clove finely chopped or grated garlic. Whisk in 3 tbs. flour and cook for about 1 minute. Add 3 cups milk and whisk until smooth. Cook over med-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste. Add 2 cups shredded cheese of your choice -- I used a four-cheese cheddar blend with a touch of cream cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the sauce.
Step 3: Place the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl. Pour the cheese sauce on top and stir well to combine. Pour the pasta into a greased casserole dish. Top with the panko breadcrumbs and bake until the sauce is bubbly and the panko is browned. This took about 20 minutes, but your mileage may vary.
Step 4: When the mac and cheese comes out of the oven, let it sit about 5 minutes before serving. That sauce is hot, so you don't want to burn yourself.
I think this recipe will be a regular feature in my dinner side dish rotation. There are tons of variations that you can make, depending on which combo of cheeses you use. Think of this version as a good starting point...