If I'm Cooking Then We're In Trouble
My mom tells people that I only eat 5 things. This list may vary each time she tells it, but a few items you can almost always count on is 1) pizza 2) chicken nuggets and 3) macaroni and cheese. The way I feel about the perfect vanilla cupcake is the same way I feel about finding an amazing macaroni and cheese. Something so simple, but it's so hard to come by a truly great recipe! There was a couple years where I became a bit obsessed with finding an outstanding recipe. I wanted one with bursting with flavor and a little crunch. Years ago, I had amazing macaroni and cheese at a restaurant downtown that is no longer open that had bread crumbs and I was desperate to find a similar recipe. Is it me or am I the only one with obsessive food/eating habits? I had all but given up until a couple weeks ago when my mom text me a couple new blogs to check out. One of them was food52, yes another foodie community... but the featured on the homepage immediately drew me in!
Reading Amanda's post made it clear that she understood where I am coming from! The idea of making it on a cookie sheet was a method I couldn't pass up. When I was in the store Saturday I pulled the recipe up on my phone to purchase my ingredients. Later that evening I pulled out the printed recipe from my recipe cabinet and was surprised to see this was NOT the same recipe! I checked my phone again to realize I'd been looking at her original recipe and she has since updated her method. There was no way I was going to let all this cheese go to waste so I sort of combined the best of the two and this what I ended up with.
Baking Sheet Macaroni & Cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 ounces asiago cheese
- 6 ounces parmesan cheese
- 6 ounces fontina
- 1 pound pasta spirals (or other small shape)
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 ground mustard
- pinch of salt
- 2/3 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- Heat oven to 475 degrees. Use one tablespoon butter to thickly grease a 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Combine the grated cheeses and set aside 2 heaping cups for topping.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6 minutes. Drain.
- In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, cheeses, cayenne and salt to taste. Spread the mixture in the baking sheet and evenly pour the milk over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top, dot with the remaining butter and bake, uncovered, until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Turn the oven to broil to bake for another 3-5 minutes.
I would definitely make this again, but with a few variations. For one I'd increase the spices, including the salt and also add pepper. I think the heavy cream and additional tablespoons of butter were unnecessary. I'd use whole milk or even 2% next time as Amanda had done in All the crunch was amazing, but the noodles were a bit greasy underneath. The bread crumbs were a great addition and next time I'll use a heavier hand so that the whole pan is evenly covered with breadcrumbs.