Surface area. That's what it's about. Spread that cheesy pasta on a baking sheet, and we're talking maximum top because--let's face it--when it comes to baked mac & cheese, we're all tops.
This recipe on Food52 inspired the baking sheet, but the actual mac & cheese recipe seemed too complicated so I stuck with my own version:
Obviously you can top this with panko or breadcrumbs if the mood seems right.
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 lb cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- fresh thyme for garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 450º.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook pasta until al dente according to the package. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. When it foams, add flour and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook until mixture darkens. Slowly whisk in milk to combine. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture thickens (about 10 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in pasta water, cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper. Fold in drained pasta.
Transfer to an 11x17" jelly roll pan or rimmed baking sheet. Top with fresh thyme if you got it. Bake until the tops turn a light golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.