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Macaroni and Cheese

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

(based on the Pioneer Woman version, but with my tweaks)



  • 4 cups dried macaroni (elbow, penne, ziti, fusilli, conchiglie)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-½ cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • ¼ cups (½ stick) butter (add teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter)
  • ¼ cup grated or finely-minced onion
  • ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-½ cups whole milk (or ½ cup half and half plus 2 cups nonfat milk)
  • 1 pound cheese, grated (cheddar, or a mix of cheeses)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • ½ teaspoons finely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons (heaping) dry mustard, more if desired
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • ½ tablespoon Tabasco sauce


In a small skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter and then mix in panko bread crumbs until the butter is thoroughly absorbed. Set aside.

Cook macaroni in well-salted water until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot, al dente if not baking. Drain.

In a small bowl, beat egg.

In a large pot, melt butter and add onion, cooking until soft (about two minutes). Sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.

Pour in milk, add seasonings, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Take ¼ cup of the sauce and temper the egg by slowly pour the sauce into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.

Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.

Add in cheese and stir to melt.

Add salt and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasonings as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.

Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese and bread crumbs, and bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. Let cook five minutes before serving.

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