I chose her recipe called Not Your Mother's Mac & Cheese, but as usual, I made some changes to make it my own.
This is a rich, baked version of mac n cheese that totally hit the spot. The leftovers were amazing too!
|Smokey Cheddar Mac N Cheese with Asparagus|
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 - 1 tsp dried parsley
Then work on the pasta and sauce:
- 1 box rotini (I use the kind that gives a serving of vegetables within the noodles)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1 and 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 and 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 lb co-jack cheese, shredded
- 4-5 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
Add cheeses and stir until melted and combined. It is best to buy blocks of cheese and shred it yourself, because it will melt better than the "preshredded" kind, which I think has some kind of coating to keep it from clumping in the bag, which also makes melt kind of unevenly. I think my best change to this recipe was the use of smoked cheddar rather than sharp cheddar. That smoked flavor was addictive and made us keep going back for more. I think it is what made the left overs so appetizing too. Sometimes a unique flavor like that really improves a dish.
Next add the pasta into the cheese sauce and stir to coat. Stir in the tomatoes. In my usual style, I was looking for a way to add some veggies and make this a more complete meal. I chose to add the tomatoes, which worked out well. They added a little freshness (even though they were canned) and a little brightness to the otherwise heavy dish. I think broccoli could also work really well here. Pour the whole shebang into a greased 8"x8" glass baking dish. Cover the top of the pasta with the crunchy topping you made earlier.
Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until top and sides are just turning golden brown.