The Ultimate Baked Macaroni and Cheese
This macaroni and cheese recipe calls for three different cheese and a delectable pancetta-panko crumble on top. Versatile and delicious, this dish work well with anything from barbecued ribs to prime rib roast. This dish can also be made gluten free. See instructions for more information.
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- for sauce:
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- for crumble:
- 1 1/4 cup plain panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3-6 slices pancetta, fried, drained and crumbled
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, washed and leaves separated from stems.
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Cook elbow noodles according to package directions. In large pot, heat olive oil (or butter), add flour and form into a rue (it should be more of a dry mixture rather than a paste). Cook for 30 seconds, stirring often. Add 1/2 cup of milk and using wire whisk, mix through. Mixture should thicken quickly, so add another 1/2 a cup and reduce heat to medium. Add softened cream cheese, mix through for a minute or two, then add another 1/2 cup of milk.
- Add cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper, allspice, chili powder, nutmeg, dried mustard, and onion powder. Stir through and add remaining milk. Let sauce slightly bubble on sides. Reduce heat to low and stirring often. Sauce should be thickened, but not overly thick. Add noodles to pot and using large spatula or spoon, turn to coat.
- Preheat oven for 350 degrees F.. To prepare crumble, simply combine all ingredient in a small bowl. Place coated noodles into a large greased casserole pan and top with panko-pancetta crumble. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until crumble has a nicely crisped golden brown color. Remove from heat, let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- For Gluten Free option: Replace elbow macaroni with gluten free macaroni noodles. Use sweet rice flour to replace all purpose flour. Use gluten free panko bread crumbs or unseasoned gluten free bread crumbs, and look for a gluten free pancetta and cream cheese brands. All of these items are available at grocery, health food and specialty stores.