Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mac and Cheese

Comfort food at its best! What is not to love...! Pasta and creamy cheese sauce, topped with a crunchy crumb!

Mac and Cheese

Serves 8

2 lbs of short pasta (I used medium shells)

3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 to 2 cups milk

1 packet cream cheese (1/3 less fat Philadelphia)
2 cup extra sharp cheddar, grated
2 cup other cheese, your choice

1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped finely (you can choose any herb you like)
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pepper to taste

1 1/2 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp butter
5 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped

Bring a large pot of water to boil.

Meanwhile, start preparing the cheese sauce.
Make a roux: In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted, add the flour and mix with a whisk. Cook for a minute or two. Add the milk gradually, whisking to avoid lumps. The sauce will become thick. When it has reached the consistency you want, add the cheeses and mix with a wooden spoon. (you may have to add more milk if the sauce is too thick). Cook until all the cheeses have melted. Add the herbs, nutmeg and pepper. I did not add any salt as the cheeses add the necessary saltiness.
Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

When the water is boiling, add some salt and the the pasta. Cook according to direction, or until "al dente".

While the pasta is cooking, melt 3 Tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.  Place the Panko in a small bowl. Pour the garlic butter on the breadcrumbs and mix well.

When the pasta is done, strain and transfer to a baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce on the pasta and toss. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and bake for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the top is browned. You can also broil the top if you are in a bit of a hurry or if your family can't wait any longer to have dinner!!!!

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