Smoky Mac and Cheese

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This is the perfect dish to warm you up and chase away some of those winter blues. Just thinking of melted cheese makes me feel better already. The addition of smoked cheddar cheese gives this classic dish a more complex flavor and the buttery panko breadcrumb topping bumps up the appeal. To take this recipe up another notch, I’ve included Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Elbows. Like all Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat pastas, these elbows are made from 100% Durum whole wheat, the highest quality wheat available. And the hearty texture and great whole wheat taste truly compliments a rich dish like this. With Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat pasta, my family is eating healthier and getting more nutrition than they would if I’d have made this dish from regular white pasta.



Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the elbow noodles until just shy of al dente.  Drain and set aside.  In a large skillet, melt 2 ½ tablespoons of the butter and whisk in the flour until smooth.  Add the milk and continue stirring and cooking over moderately high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly until thickened – about 2 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cheeses until smooth.  Add the cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.  Fold in the pasta and pour the mixture into a 9- to 10-inch baking dish or cast iron skillet.  In a small heatproof bowl, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the microwave.  Stir the panko breadcrumbs into the melted butter and then sprinkle over the top of the pasta.  Bake in a 375oF oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbly.  Remove from the oven. Turn on the broiler and broil the mac and cheese for a few minutes or until the topping is sufficiently browned and toasty. Remove from the oven and let stand for five minutes before serving.

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