Macaroni & Cheese
1 (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the macaroni and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through but still slightly firm, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Melt ¼ cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to foam and bubble, stir in the flour; cook on medium heat until flour just begins to turn pale yellow, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add thyme, cayenne pepper, and white pepper; cook and stir another minute, then whisk in 1 cup of milk until smooth. Pour in remaining milk and whisk again. Bring the sauce just to a simmer.
- Stir in salt; simmer on medium-low heat until thickened, about 8 minutes, whisking often. Turn heat off, then add 2¼ cups cheddar cheese; stir until melted and combined. Add Dijon mustard.
- Transfer the macaroni into a casserole dish, then pour in the cheese sauce; stir to thoroughly combine sauce with pasta.
- Mix panko breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon melted butter in a small bowl, and sprinkle crumbs on top of macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup of cheddar cheese on top.
- Bake in the preheated oven until breadcrumbs and cheddar cheese topping are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Feeling fancy? Try more textured pastas like campanelle or fusilli to soak up all that cheesy deliciousness.