Love a good Mac N Cheese!
SMOKED CHEDDAR AND CREOLE MAC-N-CHEESE
1 pound medium pasta shells
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups panko bread crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons Creole spice blend (TK Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)
2 tablespoons dried dill
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups shredded smoked Cheddar (about 8 ounces)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack (about 8 ounces)
2 cups shredded pepper Jack (about 8 ounces)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook to your preferred doneness, stirring occasionally. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the panko and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, toasting until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Add the flour and whisk vigorously to combine, taking care not to burn the mixture, 1-2 minutes. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Bring the béchamel to a simmer and cook, whisking, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 6 minutes. Mix in the Creole spice blend and dill.
Crack the egg into a medium bowl. Drizzle 1/3 cup of the béchamel sauce into the egg to temper it, whisking all the while. Return the egg-béchamel mixture to the pot and whisk to combine. Gradually add the cheddar and Jack cheeses, whisking to maintain a smooth texture and avoid clumping. Stir in the cooked pasta.
Spoon the warm mac and cheese into a serving bowl. Top with panko and serve.
Tip: For an extra punch of cheese, toss the bread crumbs with some grated parmesan cheese!