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This is a great side dish or main course. I say for grown-ups, but anyone can enjoy it. Use your choice of cheeses, I like Smoked Gouda, Swiss, Chedder and Munster. Thanks to Alton Brown for the idea of Panko on top as a crust. I don't remember where I got this but I think it was my Nana.
- 6 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1⁄8 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 lb ditalini or 1 lb shell macaroni
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 1⁄2 cups whole milk or 2 1⁄2 cups half-and-half cream
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 4 -6 ounces freshly grated cheese, your choice but I like smoked Gouda, Swiss, Chedder and Munster
- 2⁄3 cup panko breadcrumbs, flakes
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Put the water, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and oil in a large heavy saucepan over high heat to boil. Add the pasta and cook stiring occasionally until tender, about 8 minutes.
- In a small heavy saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
- Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
- Add the remaining salt and pepper and continue whisking until the sauce is smooth and thick enough to coat the whisk; about 8 minutes.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese(s). Continue stiring until smooth and melted.
- In the microwave melt the remaining butter and mix with Panko. Add the parsley. Set aside.
- Lightly butter a 1.5 quart casserole or 4- 15 oz. rammikins.
- Combine chesse sauce and macaroni in casserole mixing well.
- Top with Panko and bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes or until brown on top.
- Remove and enjoy.