Guess what’s main-course-popular these days? Even when company’s comin’… why, mac ‘n cheese, of course!
For a do-ahead-favorite try this and wait for the raves!
1 box macaroni of choice. Cook according to package directions. Drain.
1 onion chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped (optional)
2 or 3 cups of ham chopped (I use left-overs from a Cure 81 Hormel Ham)
5 or 6 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
2 cups of good quality shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 ½ cups of shredded Parmigianino Reggiano Cheese
2/3 box Panko Italian Bread Crumgs
1 stick butter (not margarine)
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper
2 ½ to 3 cups milk
4 eggs beaten
3 Tablespoons prepared mustard (yellow or Dijon)
Red Pepper flakes (optional, according to your family’s heat tolerance)
Return drained macaroni to pot. Add butter.
Sauté onion, red pepper, jalapeno, garlic, and ham. Add to macaroni and stir. Add Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheese, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes if you wish and stir.
Combine milk, eggs, and mustard. Pour over macaroni mixture. Stir and pour into one large greased or sprayed casserole dish. Cook loosely covered 30 minutes in 350 degree oven.
Remove foil and cover macaroni with combined Panko Bread Crumbs and Parmigiano Cheese. Drizzle with a little olive oil or cooking spray, return to oven and cook uncovered until bread crumbs and cheese mixture are browned…probably another 20 minutes.
Use your imagination, you could add your favorite sausage or if you’re attempting real elegance…broiled lobster or shrimp rather than the ham. You could also add fried bacon crumbles to the topping! What’s not to like about anything bacon?