Dijon mustard, sharp Cheddar, and hot sauce are the three secret ingredients in this creamy baked macaroni and cheese that give the casserole an extra bite. Pair this comfort food with a side salad to round out the meal.
Prep: 15 minutes, Cook: 40 minutes
1 (8-ounce) package dried elbow macaroni or favorite pasta (about 2 1/4 cups, uncooked)
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn heat to medium; gradually whisk in milk, and cook over medium heat, stirring or whisking constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in pasta, mustard, and next 4 ingredients, stirring just until cheese begins to melt.
Pour pasta mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano or more Cheddar. If desired, top with fresh breadcrumbs, and drizzle evenly with melted butter.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.