Mac and cheese is cold weather comfort food by definition. You’ll love the crunchy crumb topping in this recipe and the extra cheesey pasta. Once you make Crumb Topped Baked Mac and Cheese, you’ll never go back to mac and cheese out of a box!
how to make a roux based sauce
Making a sauce from a roux base is a classic and easy way to make a sauce. First start by bringing your pan to a medium-high heat. Add in equal parts by weight butter and flour. Cook the roux mixture until it begins to turn tan and develops a nutty smell. You’ll want to stir this fairly continuously as both the butter and the flour will burn easily.
For light colored sauces, stop the roux once it begins to have a nutty aroma. For darker sauces and more flavor, continue cooking the roux until it is a dark tan (this is used a lot in cajun cooking as it has more flavor).
what makes mac and cheese grainy
Mac and cheese can go from great to gross in a matter of seconds if the sauce becomes grainy. There are a few reason as to why his happens.
- you’re sauce was heated too high and the milk curdled
- you didn’t cook your roux thoroughly and the flour is raw
- You used the wrong type of cheese. Stick to cheeses that melt well like cheddar and avoid crumbly hard cheeses
- You used store bought cheese that was dry. Buy a block of cheddar and grate yourself for the best results
- You added your cheese to the liquid when it was too hot. Don’t go above a simmer to avoid curdling.
what kind of cheese to use
I like to use a blend of cheeses in this recipe for Crumb Topped Baked Mac and Cheese, but I primarily use cheddar cheese as it has a good melting point and becomes very smooth. Sharp cheddar is preferred, but a cheddar blend also works really well. I also add in a bit of parmesan to balance out the flavor. Stay away from very hard cheeses or crumbly cheeses as they will melt differently and alter the texture of the sauce.
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Crumb Topped Baked Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is cold weather comfort food by definition. You'll love the crunchy crumb topping in this recipe and the extra cheesey pasta. Once you make Crumb Topped Baked Mac and Cheese, you'll never go back to mac and cheese out of a box!
- 1 Pound Dried Pasta Elbows, shells or Cavatappi preferred
- 1/2 Cup Butter
- 1/2 Cup Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Milk
- 2 Cups Half and Half
- 1 Tsp Paprika
- 1 Tsp Ground Mustard
- 2 Cups Sharp Cheddar
- 1 Cup Cheddar Jack
- 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 3 Tbsp Butter
Cook pasta per package instructions until al dente. Set aside.
In a large pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir together until fully incorporated. Cook roux until flour is cooked through and it has a slight nutty aroma.
Slowly add milk to roux mixture, whisking together so that it is smooth and fully blended together. Add is half and half.
Add in seasonings and salt and pepper to taste.
Whisk in cheese and stir until fully incorporated. Let simmer for several minutes until sauce thickens.
Add pasta to the sauce mixture and adjust seasoning as desired. Transfer mixture to a baking dish.
Adjust oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Melt butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top macaroni with bread crumbs and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve. Enjoy!