Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Cheddar, Monterey Jack
Often, the element missing from a stovetop macaroni and cheese is that crunchy top achieved in oven baked recipes. Well, this delectable stovetop mac and cheese does not fail to deliver that delicious crunchy texture! Crispy cheese crumbles top this rich macaroni, delivering a full flavored punch and crunch. Yum!
Crunchy Cheese Crusted Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese, finely shredded
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 pound corkscrew pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Wisconsin Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (more or less to taste)
Begin by making the cheese crisps that will form the crunchy topping. Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Using the finely grated Wisconsin Cheddar, sprinkle a tablespoon at a time in a thin layer on the hot pan, each tablespoon of cheese being separate from the rest (makes it easier to flip later). Cheese will melt and become bubbly. As cheese melts and becomes oily, gently tilt the pan so oil runs off. Use a paper towel to blot away the excess oil. It may not look pretty at this stage, but it will be divine on the finished mac and cheese! When cheese begins to harden and stick together, flip over with a spatula. Cheese will become lacy and cohesive, holding together and no longer being bubbly; remove to cooling rack and sprinkle with garlic salt while still hot. Cheese crisps will harden to cracker-like consistency upon cooling. Once completely cool, chop/break into small pieces to make the crunchy crumble topping.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter, add the diced onions. Cook on medium-low heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Once onions are cooked through, add the flour. Mix the butter/onions into the flour, stirring constantly. This will quickly become a thick paste-like consistency, known as a roux! Be careful not to brown the roux; cook for 3 minutes.
Add the milk slowly, whisk constantly. This forms the base of the creamy sauce. When milk is fully incorporated and mixture begins to thicken, add the remaining cheese. Continue to stir as the cheese melts and becomes a gooey paradise of cheesiness. Add the paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir, stir, stir. The paprika will darken the sauce dramatically, but the flavor it brings to the Cheddar and onion party is oh-so-good!
Add the cooked pasta, stir well until blended. Serve immediately, top with the cheese crisp crumbles.
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Cheddar, mac & cheese, macaroni, Monterey Jack, stovetop, Wisconsin Cheese
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