My kid's love the white cheddar macaroni and cheese at Panera (ok...I do too)! Last time we ordered it, I knew I needed to try and replicate that recipe at home. The end result is a delicious and easy homemade white cheddar cheese pasta dish. It can be made in 30 minutes or less.
1 (16-oz.) package small shell pasta
1/4 cup butter + 1 additional Tablespoon of butter reserved for the end
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups milk (whole or 2%) [microwaved approx. 1 minute so it is luke warm.]
12 oz. shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (it is very important it is extra sharp)**
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 shakes of Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
** I use 1 1/2 bars of the Cabott Seriously Sharp Cheddar**
1. Boil the pasta in lightly salted water until it is well cooked and soft (not al dente). Drain.
2. While the pasta is cooking, melt 1/4 cup of butter in a large non-stick pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute while whisking it continually.
3. Gradually whisk in the warmed milk a little bit at a time; cook it over medium heat while whisking (10 minutes or so) until the mixture thickens and is bubbly. Remove from heat.
4. Add cheese, salt, hot sauce and nutmeg and stir the sauce until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth.
5. Stir in drained pasta and mix in 1 tablespoon of butter.
6. Pour the Macaroni and Cheese into your serving dish. Top with a little extra shredded cheese if desired.
To warm leftovers - add a little bit of water to rehydrate the sauce if needed, stir and then heat.
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