Mac Attack!

Creamy, dreamy, melt in your mouth goodness.  Add crunchy and updated and you’d be describing an out of this world mac and cheese.

Just one cheese?  Nah.  Why use one cheese when you can use three?  Topping or no topping? Topping of course when it’s Panko.  It adds a layer of crunchiness and contrast to the creamy mac and cheese.  Throw on some chopped fresh parsley for green measure and you’ve got a delicious side that’s perfect with just about anything or perfect all by itself.

This recipe is from Mio Kitchen and Wine Bar in Pittsburgh.

Mac and Cheese

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cups (or more) whole milk
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese*
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 pound orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta) or large elbow macaroni

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large deep skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion; saute until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add crushed red pepper
and garlic, stir 1 minute.  Stir in 3 tablespoons butter; allow to melt; then
add flour and stir 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups milk; simmer
until thick enough to coat spoon thickly, stirring frequently, about 5
minutes.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in cheeses.  Whisk in more milk
by 1/4 cupfuls until sauce is thick but pourable.  Season with salt and
pepper.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add panko and stir until very light golden, about 5 minutes.  Remove from
heat.  Stir in parsley.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm
to bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain well.  Return pasta to pot.  Add warm
cheese sauce; toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer mixture
to prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over.  Bake mac
and cheese until heated through and topping  is golden brown, about 30
minutes.
*An Italian cream cheese, sold at many supermarkets and at Italian
markets.


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