Is there anything more comforting than mac and cheese? Mom’s baked mac and cheese is definitely one of my comfort foods. When she tried this version, she said it was better than hers. It’s rich and creamy with a crunchy, crisp topping. There’s a slight onion flavor that adds depth, and the mustard in it makes it rich and flavorful. It’s definitely comfort in a dish. So whether you’re going for stove top, or need a little crunch to your creamy mac and cheese, I’ve got you covered.
Adapted from Alton Brown
- 1 lb rotini pasta (or other small pasta)
- 6 Tbsp butter, divided
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Tbsp powdered mustard
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 cups skim milk
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large egg
- 12 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
- 1 tsp salt
- pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13″ pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large pot, melt 3 Tbsp butter and toast the panko crumbs, stirring frequently. Once the crumbs start to brown remove them to a large plate and set aside. Carefully wipe out the pot and return it to the stove.
Melt 3 Tbsp butter in the large pot and add flour and mustard. Stir mixture for several minutes. Add smoked paprika and mix well. Then slowly add in the milk, whisking to combine. Add the onion and bay leaves and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Carefully temper the egg by adding a little bit of the hot milk to the egg and whisking continuously. Remove the milk from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Whisk in the egg, and then whisk in the cheese until it’s melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper and then fold in the cooked pasta. Spread pasta into the prepared baking dish and then top with toasted panko.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until beginning to brown and bubbly on the sides. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.