Happy Friday! So, funny story about this baked macaroni. I made it, snapped some photos, ate it for lunch, and got SO excited to write about it that I completely forgot to put it away in the fridge. So now it’s been hours later and I’m trying to decide if it’s still okay to eat. On one hand, it’s been sitting out way longer than it ‘should’ and I guess I could just make it again; but on the other hand, it turned out so yummy and creamy that I’m thinking I’m just going to have it for dinner anyway. I guess I pulled an April Fools Joke on myself.
Anyway. Make this macaroni. You’re going to eat it, love it, and put it safely in the fridge where you can have it again tomorrow.
Elbow macaroni smothered in a creamy sauce made with SKIM milk and 2 types of cheese. Did I mention the layer of toasted breadcrumbs on top?
Start by bringing a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. To make a roux, sprinkle in the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes.
While continuously whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Add in the Parmesan rind if using. I love using my parmesan rinds when I can. The rind will soften and the flavors of the cheese will start to infuse through the milk, making this an ultra creamy sauce. Simmer for about 8 minutes, whisking frequently, until mixture has slightly thickened. If the sauce starts to get lumpy, just keep whisking until it’s smooth again.
Add in the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and mustard and whisk to combine. The nutmeg and mustard are optional, but they really add so much flavor. Remove the pan from heat and discard the Parmesan rind.
Add in 2 1/2 cups of the cheddar and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot. Do NOT rinse the macaroni; you want the flavors from the salted cooking water. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and toss to combine.
Transfer the macaroni to a large cast iron skillet or 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar and Parmesan.
To make the toasted breadcrumbs, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet (or 2 for uber-buttery breadcrumbs). Add the breadcrumbs to the skillet and stir to lightly toast, about 2 minutes.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the macaroni.
Place your cast iron skillet over a baking sheet lined with foil to catch any drips (I didn’t have any, but you never know). Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, cover with foil, and continue baking 40 minutes longer. Let the baked macaroni and cheese sit for 10 minutes before serving.