I’ve been a connoisseur of mac & cheese for years, for obvious reasons – it’s only been a classic comfort food since the beginning of time! After the dozens of mac-n-cheese’s I’ve tried through the years, one of my all-time favorite recipes is from Panera Bread. It’s ooey, gooey, and SO cheesy and rich that it’s seriously what my mac-n-cheese dreams are made of. So here’s the recipe that Panera posted on their website, circa 2012, that has since been removed. You’re welcome :)
8 oz. medium shell pasta
4 oz. extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar cheese, grated (I like Cabot brand)
3 thick slices white American cheese slices from the deli counter, preferably Boar’s Head
1/8 cup butter (quarter of a stick)
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk (or partially heavy cream if you want it thicker)
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard (double for more depth)
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp hot sauce (double for more depth)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Once you add the pasta to the water, start on the cheese sauce.
Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Continue whisking until the roux is bubbling and slightly thickened.
Remove from heat.
Add American cheese slices and whisk until smooth.
Add cheddar cheese, a handful at a time, whisking until smooth.
Add mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Whisk until well combined.
Add hot, drained pasta to the cheese sauce.
Fold in gently until well combined. The more you fold it, the more that yummy cheese sauce gets into every nook and cranny of the pasta! Serve warm.
To reheat, you can A) add mac-n-cheese and a couple splashes of milk to a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through or B) heat in an oven on 350 degrees until warmed through.