Mac & Cheese – The Ultimate Comfort Food

Although it’s not a food that I grew up with, I love Macaroni and Cheese! My mom never made it, but I do remember being treated every so often to a lunch of Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese. I suppose this began my obsession. I’m always searching for the perfect recipe, the perfect cheese combination, the perfect additions. One of my favorites so far has been one that I made years ago with Chipotle Meatballs. I think they were Aidell’s, but I haven’t seen them around lately. I suppose I could make my own! But, as you may know, the Rents don’t like spicy, so that version is out.

Yesterday, I hit on a fantastic combination of cheeses and a super creamy sauce. Panko breadcrumbs gave it a beautiful golden crust, and a last minute addition of peas gave a bit of sweetness and a pop of color.

As usual, I started with a roux. I sautéed some shallots in a little butter, added flour and milk (3 cups instead of the usual 2), and loads and loads of cheese. You want to have a good amount of sauce so that it doesn’t all bake away and get absorbed into the pasta in the oven. You also want to make sure not to overcook this one, for the same reasons. The result is a super-creamy flavorful bowl of YUM!

Mac & Cheese with Peas

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Casseroles, Pasta
Keyword: Casserole, Cheesy, Comte, Cowgirl Creamery, Creamy, Gruyere, Macaroni and Cheese, Pasta, Peas, Raclette
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Macaroni:

  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1 tbsp butter

Topping:

  • cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ¼ tsp salt

Sauce:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 shallot finely diced
  • cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded Raclette
  • 1 cup shredded Comte or Gruyere
  • 1 cup shredded Cowgirl Creamery Wagonwheel
  • 2 slices American cheese
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Spanish pimenton
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook till al dente. Drain, return pasta to pot, add butter and toss until melted. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add shallots and cook a few minutes till soft. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Slowly add milk, whisking to remove lumps. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue cooking till sauce has thickened.
  • Remove from heat and add cheese, salt, pimenton, garlic powder, and mustard powder. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Pour sauce into pot with macaroni. Add peas and stir to combine everything. Pour into a casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumb topping.
  • Place on a sheet pan to catch anything that bubbles over. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is light golden. If top is not golden enough, turn on the broiler during the last minute or two.
  • Let set for 5 minutes, then serve.

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