Yield: 2 servings
- 2-1/2 (4-1/2) ounces elbow macaroni or small shells
- 1-1/2 (2) teaspoons kosher salt
- 1-1/2 (2-1/2)teaspoons butter
- 1-1/2 (2-1/2) teaspoons all-purpose flour
- Pinch dried mustard
- 3 (5) fluid ounces whole milk
- 1/2 (3/4) ounce cream cheese
- 3 (5-1/2) ounces cheddar cheese, shredded*
- 1 (1-1/2) ounce Monterey jack cheese, shredded*
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano or other grana cheese (optional)
2. Add about 2 quarts of water and the salt to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. When done, drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and mustard and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture browns slightly. Add the milk and whisk to combine into a smooth sauce.
4. Turn the heat to low. Add the cream cheese and stir just until melted. Add the remaining cheese and stir until melted. Taste, and add salt if necessary (with all the cheese, I don't usually have to add any salt). Remove the sauce from the heat.
5. Stir the drained pasta into the sauce. Pour the mixture into a small, lightly buttered gratin or casserole dish.
6. For the topping, melt the butter in a medium skillet or saucepan (or you can do it in the microwave). Add the panko and stir to coat. Add the Parmigiano, if using. Stir to combine and sprinkle over the macaroni mixture.
7. Bake the pasta for about 10 minutes, just until it's bubbling and the topping has turned a medium golden brown.
* We like this dish with an aged cheddar (Grafton 2 year or Kerrygold Reserve are good choices). The flavor is delicious, but these aged cheeses don't melt particularly well, so we add the Monterey Jack for its melting properties. If you use regular sharp cheddar, you may want to skip the Monterey Jack and add an extra ounce of the cheddar.