Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Panko Topping
One of the ultimate comfort food casseroles! This is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. If you really like the crunchy topping, go ahead and add more Panko to suit.
- 6 Tbs butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 5 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 18 oz sharp or extra sharp cheddar, grated
- 8 oz gruyere or fontina cheese, grated
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 3/4 cup panko
- 2 Tbs butter
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish or 9 x 13 pan; set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Measure panko into a small bowl and pour butter over panko and toss. Set aside.
- Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a 3 1/2 quart or larger saucepan. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
- Slowly pour milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and roughly 2/3 of each of the cheeses. Stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated into sauce. Set cheese sauce aside.
- Cook pasta 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. Drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese; scatter panko over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.