Emma's Favorite Baked Macaroni

Best baked macaroniDid you know that I am a baked macaroni lover? It's probably not all that surprising. Especially once you know about deep-seated risotto love. I'm a creamy, cheesy carb lover! I have been making variations of baked macaroni for years now and I must say that this is one of my all time favorites.
Baked macaroni recipeI think what I love most about this version is the addition of stock (instead of all milk or, gasp, water) to the sauce. And the fact that I like to use half pepper jack cheese. I love the little extra kick it gives the dish. Sometimes I (or Trey, if I'm being honest) will make our own bread crumbs. But if I'm feeling lazy or pressed for time I will use panko instead. Panko is awesome for so many things. :)
Pepper jack baked macaroniEmma's Favorite Baked Macaroni, makes one 9 inch pan (like a pie pan). Serves 4-5.

8 ounces uncooked pasta
4 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup flour
pepper, red pepper, dry mustard and garlic salt to taste
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
small handful of chopped chives
1 cup panko bread crumbs

In a pot heat enough water to cover the pasta plus a few teaspoons salt over high heat until boiling. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Be sure to under cook the pasta just a little, because it will absorb more moisture when it bakes. Strain and set aside.

In the meantime, in a large pot melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, so it bubbles as it cooks. Stir every so often and allow to cook for a few minutes. This is called a roux. I have no idea how to say that out loud. I'm a reader. Season with your favorite spices, mine are listed above. Now pour in the stock and milk, stir to combine. Stir in 1 cup pepper jack cheese and 1 cup cheddar or colby jack cheese and stir until melted. Add the pasta and pour into your baking dish. Top with remaining 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, chives and then bread crumbs. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.Deli style baked macaroniI've also had good luck making this the day ahead. Prepare as instructed above except leave off the bread crumbs, cover and refrigerate over night. The next day add the bread crumbs and bake as usual. Dinner guests won't be able to tell the difference. Enjoy! xo. Emma

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