Friday, June 10, 2011

Baked Mac n' Cheese

This dish is one of my family's favorites, it is comfort food at its best.  It can be done simply with one cheese, no onions, garlic or chicken or it can be added to and customized as much as you like.  While I realize it isn't what most may consider a summer dish I really think it is perfect anytime you want a comforting and satisfying meal.

I love this with three cheeses, onions, garlic and some chicken or ham.  I have been known to add polish sausage.

Baked Mac n' Cheese

1 1/4 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
1 1/4 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded 
1 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 roughly shredded chicken
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
1 cup milk
1 pound small shells or elbow macaroni
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs which are courser give great texture)
1 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil the macaroni in salted water until it is just fork tender.  Do not make it too soft, it should be very al dente (firm but not hard).  Pour cooked pasta into a strainer and run cold water over it to stop the cooking.  Allow to drain completely.  Place in a bowl.

In a skillet heat the olive oil and add the onion, cook until tender and beginning to caramelize, add the minced garlic and saute a minute or two.  Do not allow the onions or garlic to burn, the garlic will become bitter.  Remove from heat and mix into the cooled macaroni.

Spray a 3 quart casserole dish (9 x 13 works well) with nonstick spray.  I like using a glass dish so you can see the layers of gooey cheese after it bakes.  Add just enough macaroni to the baking dish to cover the bottom  (about the depth of one macaroni) so that very little of the bottom of the dish shows through the macaroni layer.   Layer with the cheeses using 1/3 of each and top with about 1/2 cup of chicken.

Add another layer of macaroni and repeat cheese and chicken layers.  Make a third layer of Macaroni, cheese and chicken and top with a thin layer of macaroni.  

Pour milk over the top of the whole dish, it will settle on the bottom.  As you bake the macaroni the milk will heat up and steam the macaroni softening it a little more.

Combine the Panko bread crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl until butter is well distributed.

Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the dish.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbly.....YUM!!!

Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

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