Well, after my massive rant about the heat a few days ago, it is now rainy, cloudy and dark outside……and I LOOOOOVE IT!!!???????????????????????? One of my favorite things to do during during the summer time, (scratch that, *anytime* of year) is sit out on my back porch and watch heavy storm clouds bursting with rain break over the Olympics and meander on over the Sound towards us. For some odd reason, blustery weather grounds me. You know how normal people go outside on a bright, warm, sunny day and stand in the sunshine with their arms raised and go “ahhhhh what a nice day” like they’re in heaven? Literally me right before a storm hits. Maybe it’s due to a childhood in Florida with actual thunderstorms and crazy lightening every summer day at somewhere between 2 and 4 pm? I’m not sure why, but I need rain or gray sky at least once a week to feel normal. AKA the reason I moved to the Pacific Northwest.
In short, I’m feeling awesome today. As I write this, it’s blustery Friday afternoon, the end of a physically trying week (dear tennis elbow and double tendonitis, fixyourselfkthanks), and the start of a weekend that includes lots of movies, rain, and of course, delicious food. Thankfully, this cool weather means I get to use the oven again!!! And after that heat, I’m going to whip up some comfort food. That’s right friends. It’s time for rich, creamy, cheesycheesycheesy, Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese!
OK, let’s get serious. This. is. cheesy. SUPER cheesy. I not only make the cheese sauce from scratch with a 3:2 ratio, but I add 2 more cups of cheese to the macaroni pasta itself. Just in case someone (myself) didn’t think it was cheesy enough. Secret ????: I’m one of those people that likes and shares memes about cheese that pop up on my Facebook feed ???? Not surprised are you?
Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese says it all in the name. No Macaroni and Cheese is really complete without that final step: cover the top in flaky Panko and bake in an oven so ALL that cheesy goodness within can infuse together and the breadcrumbs can give you a perfect, golden crust to add that smidge of crunch.
Also, I know that a lot of people prefer their macaroni and cheese to be completely white. None of that cheddar business because orange = kids food. Welp, I’m a 28 year old child who plays in a kitchen all day. So my Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese? It’s orange friends. Because it’s Macaroni and Cheese. And it’s delicious. ‘Tis blasphemous to remove cheddar cheese from this comforting dish. Having said that, if you use white cheddar, totally legit. And I do throw in Gruyere cheese whenever I have it around, and obviously parmesan makes a solid appearance. But this version? It’s orange and it’s adult and kid friendly! Winwin right??Print
For the Cheese Sauce
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups milk
- 4 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups grated parmesan cheese
For the Macaroni
- 1 lb large macaroni shells
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease a 9X13 casserole dish.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni pasta and cook according the directions on the package to reach al dente. Drain completely and pour into the greased casserole dish. Add 3/4 of the cup of parmesan and 1/4 of the cup of cheddar to the pasta and mix together. Set aside in a warm place.
- While water is coming to a boil, begin making the sauce: In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Slowly whisk in the flour, making sure there are no lumps.
- Pour in the milk 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until combined. Scald the milk mixture (do not boil!) and remove from heat.
- Add in the 4 cups cheddar cheese and 2 cups parmesan cheese and stir until smooth.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni mixture and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the Panko and the rest of the parmesan and cheddar cheese on top of the macaroni and cheese. Top with Panko.
- Place on a center rack in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until sides are bubbling and Panko is golden.