The Neelys’ Mac & Cheese Recipe
A delicious pasta from the Food Network chefs. A piquant, cheesy white sauce and a crispy topping made from potato chips and bacon creates the most indulgent version of mac and cheese. Served alongside roast chicken, or with a simple green salad and a glass of great red wine, this is the ultimate comfort food.
6 tbsp butter, plus more for greasing
1 lb. cavatappi (corkscrews) (or other tubular pasta)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Dash hot sauce
Dash Worcestershire sauce
4 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1-1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Crunchy Bacon Topping
1-1/2 cups crushed potato chips
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
5 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.
Step 2: Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta until it’s al dente.
Step 3: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the warmed milk, and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly (the mixture will thicken as the heat increases).
Step 4: Stir the dry mustard, salt, black pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce into the thickened milk. Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar, and the Pecorino Romano, until the cheeses melt.
Step 5: Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce, and toss to combine.
Step 6: Pour the cheese-apalooza mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
Crunchy Bacon Topping
Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine the potato chips, Pecorino Romano, crumbled bacon, parsley, and the remaining cheddar. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the macaroni and cheese, and bake for 35 minutes. For a crunchier topping, finish under the broiler for 3 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven, and cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Reprinted with permission from Down Home with the Neelys by Patrick and Gina Neely, with Paula Disbrowe (2009 Knopf).