Just about everyone looooooves macaroni and cheese – forkful after forkful of noodles bathed in rich creamy, cheesy, sauce. Whether it started as a blue box obsession (or if that still remains, I won’t judge you), and advanced to homemade stove top mac and cheese, Buffalo Macaroni and Cheese or even Taco Macaroni and Cheese, homemade macaroni and cheese in all its varieties – when done right – is one of the most comforting, cravilious foods on the planet.
But have you ever tried a homemade macaroni and cheese recipe and discovered what should be the most silky pasta all too often is runny, dry, bland and disappointing? So, so sad. But not this Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese. This baked macaroni and cheese will leave you and your taste buds so, SO happy.
I call this Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese for a few different reasons – including the surprise filling, which I will get to later – but let’s start with the quick, fool proof, easy, creamy, cheesy, flavorful from scratch sauce that takes just minutes to whip together.
Instead of using just a roux (whisking of flour, butter and milk) to create the sauce, I combined the roux method with evaporated milk whisked with some cornstarch to stabilize all the cheesiness and create incredible silkiness that doesn’t separate or curdle when baked. I then added a plethora of hand picked seasonings for the most flavor infused sauce suitable for Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese.
And then comes the capital M in Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese – the provolone, sour cream filling. The what?! I know it might sound odd, but please trust me. I got this idea when I was day dreaming about my moms baked ziti which is a marinara based pasta with a layer of provolone and sour cream in between layers of noodles. The best part of the pasta is the creamy, cheesy center, so then I got giddy dreaming about what this filling would taste like cradled in between cheese smothered noodles instead of marinara smothered noodles.
The provolone melts as the pasta bakes, adding a fresh depth of cheesiness while the sour cream melts, adding a fresh layer of creaminess. This to live for layer of deliciousness blends into each forkful so although you can see the white layer of goodness, its creamy cheesiness just enhances the overall pasta. And when I say enhance, I mean creates the CREAMIEST macaroni and cheese you will ever dive into.
Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
- 1 pound cellentani pasta (may sub rigatoni, penne or macaroni)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
- 1 tsp EACH onion pwdr, garlic pwdr, dried parsley, salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 4 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 6-8 slices provolone cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Cook pasta just until al dente according to package directions – don’t overcook! Strain and rinse with cold water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat then whisk in flour. Cook, while stirring for 2 minutes. Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in milk. Whisk cornstarch into evaporated milk and gradually add to skillet followed by Dijon mustard and all remaining spices/seasonings.
Bring to a boil, whisking constantly then reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened (but not overly thick). Remove from heat and whisk in sharp cheese until melted. Add pasta and toss until evenly coated (it will seem like a lot of extra sauce which is a good thing).
Pour half of the macaroni and cheese into prepared baking dish. Layer macaroni evenly with provolone cheese followed by an even layer of sour cream. Pour remaining macaroni and cheese over sour cream and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan cheese (or more to taste).
Panko topping (optional): Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and inside provolone is melted. If not topping with panko, broil until Parmesan is golden. Cool 10 minutes to set before serving.
Credit to Carlsbad Cravings at carlsbadcravings.com