Photo: Jennifer Davick; Prop Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham
3 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 (16-oz.) package cavatappi pasta
2 tablespoons corn oil, divided
1/2 cup butter
1 small onion, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups half-and-half
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 cups freshly grated smoked Cheddar cheese
1 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
6 cooked bacon slices, chopped
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°. Bring 1 gal. water and 1 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil in a Dutch oven; add pasta. Cook 8 to 9 minutes or until al dente. Drain; rinse with cold water. Toss with 1 Tbsp. oil.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. (Do not brown flour.) Add half-and-half, next 2 ingredients, and remaining 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking constantly, 5 to 6 minutes or until thickened. Gradually add cheeses, stirring until blended. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in cooked pasta. Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
Sauté chipotle pepper in remaining 1 Tbsp. hot corn oil in a small skillet over medium heat 30 seconds or until mixture begins to smoke. Remove from heat, and quickly stir in bacon and panko until coated. Sprinkle mixture over pasta.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and crisp on top. Serve immediately.
Loved this! Now I know what makes Velveeta so creamy (lots of fat). This recipe makes a delicious sauce and the flavors are a very good blend. I make a scratch mac-n-cheese that my family loves, but this is an altogether different twist on traditional mac-n-cheese. Definitely will be making this again. Heavy on the calories and fat—not exactly healthy, but so, so good.
AWESOME! This is always a hit, and it's less hassle than other versions and more flavorful than our traditional ones. I've used smoked gouda (since it tends to be cheaper) and it's great. I've passed it on to a few people who have made it their go-to mac and cheese. I'm making it for Turkey day and couldn't be more happy about it. yay!