Ultra-Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese
- 1/2 pound elbow noodles
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk, divided
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 ounces cream cheese, in pieces, softened
- 3/4 to 1 cup fine cracker crumbs or panko bread crumbs
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a large casserole.
- Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Drain, transfer to a large bowl,
drizzle with oil, and toss to avoid clumping.
- Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute more, stirring.
- Add 1 cup of milk and stir. As the sauce thickens, add the remaining 1 cup of milk. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the chicken stock and heat gently for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the mustard, salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the cheddar cheese, one cup at a time, and stir. Add more as it melts.
- Add the cream cheese and stir until melted.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir to coat. Transfer the mixture to the casserole. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs to cover evenly.
- Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan over low heat and drizzle over the crumbs.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly.
Yield: 6 servings
Bacon Mac and Cheese: Add 4 to 5 slices of crisp-cooked, crumbled bacon to the noodles when you add the sauce. Continue as directed.
Pepperoni Pizza Mac and Cheese: Add 1/3 cup of chopped pepperoni slices to the noodles when you add the sauce. Instead of cracker crumbs, cover with sliced tomatoes and additional shredded cheese. Bake as directed.