“Not your kids” Mac-n-Cheese

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups dry pasta, gemelli or cellantani
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 slice onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 TBsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese (grated about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 3 oz fontina cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 3 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cups panko or crushed Ritz crackers

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Generously butter a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in pasta and boil until it is half cooked, approx 5 mins. Drain well and set-aside.
  3. Put the milk in a small saucepan with the onion slice, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring just to a low boil over med heat, and then take the pan from the heat and let it sit to infuse for 10-15 mins.
  4. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over med heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it foams up and has a very slight toasty smell (it should not brown), 1-2 mins. Strain the warm milk into the pan and whisk to blend. Continue to cook the sauce, whisking often, until it thickens, about 5 mins. Turn off the heat and gradually whisk in the cheeses until fully melted. Season the sauce to taste with salt-n-pep, then add the pasta and stir to fully coat.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle the panko or cracker crumbs evenly over the top.
  6. Bake until the mac-n-cheese is bubbling and the top is nicely browned, approx 40 mins. Let sit 5 mins before serving!
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