Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Baking Sheet Macaroni and Cheese

 My favorite part of homemade macaroni and cheese is always the top layer.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  That top layer where the cheese and noodles get broiled to a nice dual texture of crispiness and chewiness.  That top layer "crust" that houses all the crispy breadcrumbs and lacks the typical creamy texture of mac and cheese.  This recipe gives you just that.  The baking sheet cooking method allows for a 50/50 ratio of "crust" to innards.  That means I get to enjoy my favorite part in each and every bite!  It's a bit unusual that this mac and cheese recipe did not include a roux, but I guess you may not need it if you're not going for the creamy factor.  We added some leftover lamb shoulder bits before the final cheese layer. Any other precooked mix-in (bacon, sausage, salmon, etc.) could also be added for some variation.  I really enjoyed the outcome of this cooking method and next time I will probably try some different cheeses.

Baking Sheet Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from food52
Serves 6

3 Tablespoons butter
12 oz extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (or gruyere, fontina, bleu, etc.)
1 pound fusilli pasta (or any other small pasta shape)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
salt and pepper
2/3 cup whole milk
1.5 cups panko or breadcrumbs
  1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to grease a 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet (or use parchment paper for easier cleanup and grease the parchment paper). Combine the grated cheeses and set aside 2 cups for topping.  Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl with the panko or breadcrumbs.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6 minutes. Drain. 
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheeses, cayenne, and mustard.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Spread the mixture in the baking sheet and evenly pour the milk over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.  Evenly sprinkle the panko crumbs on top.  Bake uncovered, until golden and crisp, for about 15-20 minutes. 

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