Smoky and creamy goodness inside with a delicious panko crust that is the crunchiest ever, this mac’n’cheese will become one of your favorites in short order.
Difficulty: Intermediate Preparation Time: 15min
Yields: 8-12 Servings Total Time: 1hr 30min
1 lb. Thick Cut Bacon, cut into 3/8” slices/span>
1 lb. Elbow Macaroni (Barilla)
6 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 1” cubes at room temp.
6 oz Velveeta Cheese, 1” cubes at room temp.
8 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 tbsp. Dry Mustard (Colemans)
1 tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tbsp. Pureed Canned Chipotle in Adobo sauce
8 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, divided
4 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
2 1/2 cups Whole Milk
2 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
1 1/2 cups Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
FOR THE CRUST
Preheat oven to 375F.
Render the sliced bacon in a medium sized sauté pan over a low heat until the bacon the crispy. Transfer to a paper towel lined bowl.
Bring 4 quarts of salted water (water should taste like seawater) to a boil and add pasta. Reduce heat till the pasta is cooking at a gentle boil. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than the box directions for al dente. The pasta will need to be undercooked so it does not become soggy when baked with the cheese mixture. Drain (DO NOT RINSE) the pasta and return to the pot it was cooked in. Cover the pasta with a lid.
While the pasta is cooking add the milk and cream to a pot and warm over medium heat (do not boil). In a 6 quart pot add 5 tbsp. of the butter and melt over medium heat. Once butter is melted whisk in the flour and cook for 3 minutes (this is a roux). Slowly wisk the heated cream mixture into the roux and bring to a boil (this is a béchamel), reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. Into the béchamel add the dry mustard, lemon juice and the pureed chipotle. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to let the flavors marry.
Remove the béchamel from the heat and whisk in the cheeses starting with the cream cheese then the Velveeta and lastly the cheddar. Wisk the sauce until the cheese are thoroughly incorporated. Taste the sauce at this point and adjust seasoning to your tastes. Add the pasta and the bacon to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Transfer the mac and cheese to a greased 13×9 baking pan.
Melt the remaining butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Once the foaming has subsided stir in the Panko and mix until the butter is incorporated throughout the Panko.
Evenly spread the Panko over the mac and cheese and cover with aluminum foil.
Heat the mac and cheese in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until the center is bubbly. Once bubbly, remove the foil and heat in the oven for another 5 minutes or until the Panko is golden brown.