Sometimes what you want, what you need, is comfort food. And the best comfort food of all in my opinion is homemade macaroni and cheese. This recipe is adapted from my ”Light & Easy” Cookbook, but truthfully with what I’ve changed around, it’s probably more like “Fatty and a little Cumbersome” – but still, make this, you will love it.
Cook 8 oz (weighed before cooking) of macaroni pasta with a little salt in plenty of water. It will bake, so knock a few minutes off the cook time on the box. Get macaroni that has little grooves in it, I like Barilla.
While that cooks, mix all this in a big bowl:
1/2 C milk
3/4 C sour cream
1 C Cottage Cheese (Even if you aren’t a cottage cheese person, trust me, it goes all melty and good, is doesn’t end up tasting like cottage cheese, I promise!)
1.5 T melted butter
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 t dry mustard (no, you can’t skip this or sub out, it needs to be dry mustard. As in wait until you get some, it’s that important)
Grate some good sharp cheddar cheese. 2 cups. Put 1 C into the mix and set the other aside. Don’t use bagged preshredded cheese for this, or for anything. Just don’t do it. Once you get out of the bagged cheese habit you will never go back.
As soon as the pasta cooks, right away drain it and then put it into the bowl and mix it all in. Don’t let it sit in the drainer and cool off, you want the mixture to land on the hot pasta so it absorbs some of the goodness.
Butter your casserole or cast iron skillet & pour the whole thing in.
Top with the second cup of cheese.
In a glass measuring cup, melt another Tablespoon of butter. Then mix in 3/4 C of panko bread crumbs. You don’t skip this, you don’t make your own, you don’t use Italian. Panko. It has to be panko. Then add 1 t of paprika. Sprinkle this crunchy goodness over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Then take off the foil and broil for 3-4 minutes.