I made two trays of this dish for a recent school fundraiser, which is a bit ironic since my son Mack is allergic to milk products. So while my cheese-loving daughter got to sample the goods, Mack stayed as far away from the kitchen as he possibly could. Needless to say, I never make this dish for my own family since Mack can’t have it. I don’t believe in making separate meals for anyone in my family. However, to appease my daughter Masana, I will slice up some Gruyere or Pecorino Romano and serve it on the side of her plate. It doesn’t really work when I’m serving up fried tofu, but she doesn’t care. As long as she gets her hunk of cheese, then she’s happy.
The most important part of making this dish is the roux. So don’t skimp on the butter or the flour, and take your time!
1 pound macaroni, cooked
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
4 cups grated Cheddar cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup crumbled bacon (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Making the roux: In a large pot, melt the butter under low to medium heat. Once butter is completely melted, add the flour. Using a whisk, mix the flour and butter I the saucepan. Cook the mixture until it’s a golden light brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the milk and stir gently. Once it begins to boil, lower the heat further and add the cheeses and the spices. Stir and cook sauce for a few minutes, then turn off heat. Add the cooked macaroni and mix well.
Pour macaroni and cheese into a deep aluminum tray. Add topping. Place foil over tray and put in the oven for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Remove foil and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the topping is toasted and crunchy.