The Weekend Gourmet: A Grown-up Twist On a Childhood Favorite: Garlic-Infused Macaroni and Cheese F

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Grown-up Twist On a Childhood Favorite: Garlic-Infused Macaroni and Cheese

One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is macaroni and cheese. Homemade, the ubiquitous "blue box" of my childhood, you name it. Cheese + macaroni = a winning combination in my book any day! I made dinner last weekend for Michael's family, who were in town visiting for Easter. I wanted to feature comfort food: salad, meatloaf, and macaroni and cheese...but I wanted to try my hand at homemade macaroni and cheese. I searched online and found a great recipe from Rachael Ray. 

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.


We all really enjoyed this mac and cheese! The cheese sauce was rich and creamy, and the garlic-butter panko topping was the perfect crunchy compliment. The garlic flavor really came through thanks to infusing it in the cheese sauce and adding it to the topping. It was a really great side dish for the meatloaf.


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...

15 comments:

  1. Yum! I've been trying to come up with something for dinner. I think this is the winner!
    Oh, and chipper is good :)

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  2. Can never turn down mac n cheese - and with garlic? Even better!

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  3. Mmm, I love the blue box too! (Spirals please!) Great take on the traditional dish!

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  4. The combination of garlic and Mac & Cheese is a marriage made in foodie heaven. Delish!

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  5. This sounds delish! I tried Pioneer Woman's "Fancy Macaroni" recipe a while back and it was also very good. Sauteed onion and bacon mixed in with the mac - the cheesy sauce featured four kinds of cheese. So very yummy. I will have to try yours now, since I've never met a garlic clove I didn't love. lol

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  6. Lovely platter sounds very fabulous…

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  7. Great looking mac n' cheese, especially with all that garlic. and then topped with pancko bread crumbs, Yum!

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  8. That looks delicious and very comforting! I would love to hang out with Rachael Ray in the kitchen, too. My husband loves her and I joke that she's his girlfriend. :)

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  9. Ah comfort food!! This could be a little dangerous for me, it looks so good!

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  10. Thanks so much for the kind comments! I think those garlicky panko crumbs on top are what takes this mac and cheese over the top. It's buttery and crispy...which goes really well with the creamy noodles. I can't wait to make this again!

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  11. That looks yum!! My husband loves mac&cheese, so I'm gonna give this a try! Thanks for sharing! Found you through Saturday Swap!

    xo, Ana
    My (Newly)Wed Life

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  12. i dont think... i KNOW this recipe will be a regular feature in my dinner side dish rotation!

    Looks amazing wendy!

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  13. Yum, I have a weakness for mac and cheese, well really anything with cheese. Like how this recipes uses panko and with the garlic I know it would be good. I like watching her when I get a chance. Hope you have a great weekend.
    -Gina-

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  14. Macaroni and Cheese has ALWAYS been one of my favorite things on earth. This recipe? Looks so amazing. I'm bookmarking this to add to my "mother's day" wish list. Thanks so much for linking to Saturday Swap! Have a super weekend.

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  15. I don't think I've ever added garlic to my mac and cheese or topping, but what a great idea! This looks so gooey and yummy, Wendy~

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