MP enjoys cooking homemade meals, but her desire to do so ebbs and flows depending on the family’s schedule. Our dinners generally become simple in the summer and when school starts, we plan streamlined, after sports practice meals like breakfast for dinner, pasta dishes with grilled sausage, homemade pizzas and fajitas. But when the temperature drops, no matter what’s going on in our lives, MP can think of nothing else but her favorite comfort food dishes. This classic macaroni and cheese is one of the recipes she craves. With a solid sharp cheddar cheese (we like Cabot Seriously Sharp), Panko breadcrumbs and a dusting of smoked paprika, this dish is easily elevated from good to great.
8 oz. pasta elbows
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2-1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp butter
2-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375˚F and grease a 2-quart casserole dish.
Boil water for pasta in a large saucepan. When the water boils, pour in your elbow pasta and turn down the heat to simmer. Pasta should cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. Drain your pasta using a strainer and set aside.
To create the cheese sauce, combine cornstarch, salt, dry mustard and pepper in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk. Set the stove to medium heat and stir in butter until it melts. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil. You’ll notice the sauce will start to thicken. Boil for a minute and when the sauce becomes a creamy, smooth consistency, remove it from the heat.
Stir in 2 cups of cheese into the sauce until melted. Next, pour your drained pasta into your greased casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir the two together.
Use the remaining 1/2-cup of cheese to cover the top. If desired, sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs (we like panko breadcrumbs for the added crunch) and a pinch or two of smoked paprika.
Bake uncovered for approx. 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the top is a golden brown.
Serves 4.-6 people.
PS: Another comfort food favorite.