1 pound short pasta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk, cream, or half and half
6 slices white American cheese, torn into pieces
8 ounces extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha
1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta as instructed by packaging. Drain well.
2. Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
3. Gradually whisk in milk (or cream); cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
4. Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
5. Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated).
This recipe is from Panera. I have a weekly “me date” at Panera between Voice and Choir, while the guys eat leftovers. Voice and Choir are located in such a way that it makes no sense for me to come home in between and Panera is a conveniently located place for me to have a quiet meal while I read a book. I also love Panera since they don’t use HFCS in most of their products, including the salad dressings. This makes them one of the few places in town that is “safe” for me.
Every so often, especially if the weather is nasty, I like a bowl of their mac and cheese. It’s creamy and delicious and hot and yum. I do find it to be a bit overdone in the sauce compartment, but I can sop up the extra with a piece of bread so it’s all good.
I thought it would be nice to try making their mac and cheese at home so I could control the sauce to pasta ratio as well as emulate the deliciousness that is Panera. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong, but the sauce I ended up with just wasn’t as smooth and creamy as the sauce in the restaurant. Maybe it needs less flour as another blogger has suggested? I might try that out next time.
I did, however, use half the sauce this recipe makes for the pound of pasta. I’d suggest adding the sauce to the pasta a scoopful at a time until you reach your desired ratio.
Shown here with Potato-Crusted White Fish with Tartar Sauce.