This method of cooking mac and cheese does a lot more than just save steps in prep, cook time and clean up. Baking the dry pasta in a creamy cheese sauce makes for a delicious and perfectly cooked mac and cheese every time.
16 ounces dry penne, elbows, pennette. alphabets or other small pasta
8 tablespoons (1 stick) Cabot Salted Butter
¼ cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
4 cups warm whole, skim or reduced fat milk
1 pound Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, or your favorite Cabot Cheddar grated (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
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Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 35 mins | Total: 55 mins
PREHEAT oven to 375°F.
PLACE dry pasta in a 13 x 9 baking dish, Dutch oven or casserole dish. Add one cup of the shredded cheddar and mix.
MELT butter in heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour a little at a time until well blended. Continue stirring for a minute or two longer.
WHISK in milk gradually and continue stirring until sauce has thickened a little. The idea is to make a thin sauce that will continue to thicken when baked with the pasta.
ADD cheese, stirring until melted and blended.
REDUCE heat to low. Add basil and thyme and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes longer.
REMOVE sauce from heat and pour over the dry pasta and cheddar. Stir to mix well.
COVER with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
REMOVE the foil and add toppings if you wish. Panko or breadcrumbs BBQ sauce or hot sauce, sautéed vegetables or sliced tomatoes and basil…...have fun!
BAKE for another 10 to 15 minutes or until top starts to brown a little.
Recipe courtesy of Jimmy Kennedy.