We forgot to take any meat out to defrost for dinner last night so I wound up making this macaroni and cheese I’d been eyeing for a while. It took a little longer to get on the table than I’d like but it was tasty. If we’re going to do a baked pasta dish, I still prefer baked ziti, but this is a good alternative for sure.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
from Alton Brown, FoodNetwork.com

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

Topping:
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.