Best Mac and Cheese: tender pasta shells filled with a creamy cheesy sauce, chunks of ham and a buttery crunchy top!
My Grandma always made Mac and Cheese after the holidays with leftover ham. It’s the best mac and cheese that I have ever had. I recreated Grandma’s recipe using Cabot Sharp Cheddar and buttery bread crumbs.
This is a delicious casserole of cheesy Mac and Cheese with ham and a crunchy topping.
Pulse bread in a food processor until it looks like crumbs.
Boil Pasta al dente.
Make a bechamel sauce, add a third of the cheese to sauce.
Pour pasta into cheese sauce, stir until pasta shells are covered with cheese sauce.
Spread one-third of pasta mixture over bottom of a prepared baking dish. Scatter one-third of remaining cheese on top. Scatter ham chunks over pasta mixture. Spoon another one-third of pasta mixture and add another one-third of cheddar. Top with remaining pasta. Mix remaining cheese into breadcrumbs, and scatter evenly over top.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden on top and bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. It will be easier to serve.
- Butter or nonstick cooking spray
- 2 boxes ( 18 ounces ) Medium Pasta Shells
- 3 cups milk
- 5 tablespoons Cabot Salted Butter
- 3 slices firm white bread, pulsed into crumbs in processor or blender
- 3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- ½ pound chopped ham chunks
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Several dashes Cholula Sauce
- 16 ounces Cabot Xtra Sharp Cheddar grated (about 4 cups), divided
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 14-by-10.25-inch or other shallow baking dish or coat with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- Stir pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water; cook for 5 minutes after water returns to a boil, or until outside is cooked but the center is still firm. Immediately drain in colander, and rinse under cold water; set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat or in microwave on high power for 20-second intervals, heat milk to just below a simmer.
- In the pot you used for pasta, melt butter over medium-low heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of butter into bowl, add breadcrumbs and blend together thoroughly; set aside.
- Reduce heat to low, add flour to butter remaining in saucepan and whisk over heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to let it color. Add milk in small amounts at first, whisking until smooth after each addition; continue stirring until sauce thickens and comes to simmer. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and whisk in pepper, nutmeg, Cholula Sauce and half of cheese. Stir in drained pasta.
- Spread one-third of pasta mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Scatter one-third of the remaining cheese on top. Scatter ham over pasta. Spoon another one-third of pasta on top and add another one-third of cheese. Top with remaining pasta. Mix remaining cheese into breadcrumbs and scatter evenly over top.
- Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden on top and bubbling throughout. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
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Nettie Moore is the cook, baker, photographer and designer behind Moore or Less Cooking Food Blog. Nettie is a self-trained cook and baker. She loves creating easy recipes that don’t call for a lot of unknown ingredients.Nettie’s Blueberry Skillet Cake has been featured in Taste Of Home Magazine and her Peach Raspberry Pie has won awards! She was born and raised in Southern California and now calls New England her home, where she lives with her husband and two children. Follow Nettie on her blog, Moore or Less Cooking, or here: FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOOGLE+ | PINTEREST | BLOGLOVIN |INSTAGRAM
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