There is a reason why this baked macaroni and cheese from Alton Brown has 4 stars and 1,225 reviews on Food Network.com: it's a winner! I didn't even use the same cheese as the original recipe and it was still very creamy and cheesy and ooey gooey yummy. My favorite part is the topping made from Panko bread cumbs and butter...mmmmm.
I made this for a family get together and the true test was to see if even the little kiddos liked it. They did! My cousin's cute and observant 3 1/2 year old daughter asked what the "red things" on the noodles were (paprika) but nonetheless, she ate it and said it was good. :) I doubled the recipe to feed a larger crowd, but we had a ton left over. When warmed up the next day it was still tasty, but unless you are featuring the mac and cheese as your main entree or feeding 10 or more people, 1 batch should be enough.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
From Alton Brown on Food Network.com
Ingredients for 6 - 8 servings (one batch)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups of milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf (I omitted since I didn't have it)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a combo of 3 different types of cheeses)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
For the topping:
3 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of Panko break crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate large pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of clumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the macaroni and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for five minutes before serving.