Smoked Cheddar Baked Mac & Cheese


It’s funny how a rainy Sunday afternoon can cause one to bake. Yesterday I started off with a (very disappointing) loaf of pumpkin bread … but let’s not go there. I soon decided that dinner had to be something ooey, gooey and baked in the oven. With a wedge of smoked cheddar cheese in the fridge, I decided some baked mac & cheese was in order.

Below is a recipe that I adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown (who I’ve absolutely loved ever since watching pretty much every episode of Good Eats while in college). If you don’t have smoked cheddar, plain old sharp cheddar will do. This mac & cheese comes out thick and cheesy with a deliciously crisp topping.

Smoked Cheddar Baked Mac & Cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon ground mustard
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
4 ounces smoked cheddar, grated
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F and cook macaroni until al dente in a pot of boiling water. In a separate pot, start a roux by melting the butter until foamy and sprinkling in the flour, stirring constantly. Once fully combined with no lumps, whisk in ground mustard. Slowly whisk in milk and once combined, add onion, bay leaf, paprika and nutmeg. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and remove bay leaf. Temper the egg with a few spoonfuls of the hot mixture and then whisk in the egg. Toss grated cheeses together, set aside about 4 ounces for topping, and stir in the rest of the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste and stir in the cooked macaroni. Transfer macaroni and cheese mixture to a casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Mix melted butter and bread crumbs and sprinkle evenly over top. Bake for about 30 minutes. If topping isn’t golden, broil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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