Three cheese spirals.

Okay so if you read this blog a lot, you’ll know I love macaroni & cheese. I have TONS of recipes for it  (well, this is the fifth one I’ve made; I have a traditional one, one with broccoli, a spicier one with cayenne and one with white cheddar and garlic breadcrumb topping) …but I love trying new ones. So when the new Food Network magazine came this month (you know I was one of the first subscribers to that? Jay got it for me as part of my birthday gift right when it was debuting) and it had a whole piece on macaroni & cheese, you can imagine how excited I was.

I immediately folded down all the pages with recipes I wanted to make, and the first ones I wanted to tackle were the mac-n-cheese ones. The first one in the article was this recipe, three cheese spirals, so I went with that one. What was different about this one was that there was evaporated milk in it, and also there was no baking (or broiling) involved. It was a strictly stove-top recipe. So it was really, really quick to make. It was thick, creamy, and very delicious despite being easy. I made a few changes, so I’m going to give you my version of the recipe here. If you want the original… well, you’re just gonna have to go get the magazine, aren’t you? Which will admittedly be hard to do when this post gets to be over a month old. Oh well. You’ll like my version, people of the future.

On a cold not-quite-spring day, it’s just wonderful to come home and have a bowl (or plate) of this. Actually it would be amazing to serve this in one of those super cute mini-casserole dishes or cocottes. I wish I had some to use, especially at times like this. And technically… this should be called four cheese spirals’, because I added another cheese in. But I don’t really count the parmesan anyway, because you don’t need it. You can even take it out if you want.

So creamy. Just perfection. There is really no excuse to not make homemade macaroni & cheese with a recipe like this. None at all. It’s pulled together so quickly it’s basically like making Velveeta shells & cheese or Kraft, just it tastes about a gazillion times better. Oh, and it’s homemade. Duh.

Now I have another hit mac-n-cheese recipe under my belt. It’s getting to be hard at this point, because when people request it for dinner or holidays now, I have to ask “Which recipe!?”

THREE CHEESE SPIRALS

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound gemelli (or other spiral pasta)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese
  • 1 ¾ cups mix of monterey jack & colby cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley & chives

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour & cayenne pepper and stir with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste fluffs slightly, about 1 minute. Whisk in both milks and add ½ teaspoon salt and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and creamy, about 6 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the cheddar and jack cheeses and all but 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese and whisk until melted; keep warm.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Add the panko, remaining parmesan, chives and parsley and cook until panko is just toasted and slightly browned. Remove from heat.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water, and return to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce, adding the reserved cooking water (only if needed). Season with salt and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Serve.

Another score for the Food Network magazine. Thumbs up, guys.

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