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Creamy, Crispy Mac & Cheese
|2||cups||Cellentani Pasta (dry measure)|
|3||tbls||Unsalted Butter (diced)|
|½||lbs||Mild Cheddar Cheese (shredded)|
|½||lbs||Philadelphia Cream Cheese (cubed)|
|3||strips||Apple Smoked Bacon|
|1||tbls||Coleman's Dry Mustard|
|1||tsp||Fresh Grated Nutmeg|
|1||tsp||Fresh White Pepper|
|1||tsp||Sweet Hungarian Paprika|
|2||tbls||Unsalted Butter (melted)|
|½||cup||Panko Bread Crumbs (crumbed)|
|½||cup||Parmigiano Reggiano (micro planed)|
First, grill or bake the bacon, drain and blot. Chop bacon nearly into crumbs and set aside.
Second, cook macaroni in salt water al dente (follow package directions). When done add the diced butter while still hot.
Third, while the macaroni is cooking grate, chunk, cube the cheeses.
In a blender or food processor reduce the panko to crumbs (NOT powder) and mix in the parmigiano and butter, set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the milk until just about to boil. Add the Sodium Citrate and stir until thoroughly dissolved. Then add the rest of Cheese Sauce ingredients except the cheese and bacon (first 4 ingredients) to the hot milk whisking continuously until thoroughly mixed. Reduce heat to low... just enough to melt the cheese you'll be adding. Add cheese approximately one cup at a time, melting thoroughly before adding the next handful. As soon as you add the last cup of cheese remove the sauce from the heat entirely. Mix in bacon bits. (Do NOT sprinkle bacon on top. Bacon grease will drown the topping and not let it crisp up)
Preheat oven to 400º.
Add macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix thoroughly. Pour Mac & Cheese into your baking dish. Sprinkle top with thin, even layer of parmigiano and panko mixture.
Bake or Broil uncovered just long enough to brown the topping.
* Food-grade Sodium Citrate is available from Amazon (~$9 for 14oz) and other online sources. It's what Kraft uses to make their American Cheese smooth, creamy and melty. Buy it once, then have a supply for making awesome cheese sauce and cheese dip for years. You won't regret having it in your pantry.