Add a flavor-packed twist to a comfort food classic with a tried-and-tested recipe for extra-creamy Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese.
As a mom of three boys ages 5 and under, mac and cheese is undoubtedly a food group in our house. My boys are noodle super-enthusiasts and will gobble up the carb covered in any sauce I can whip up, from bolognese to pesto to, of course, creamy cheddar cheese.
I’m all for a classic, but it was about time I elevated the ordinary into a loved-by-all casserole starring none other than Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese.
How to Make Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese
The debut of this iconic dish merited more than a classic preparation. Someone cue the whole head of roasted garlic. Yes, an entire head of garlic that’s roasted, mashed and then whisked into the easiest, cheesiest cheddar sauce.
The beauty of roasting the garlic before whisking it into the cheese sauce is that it both mellows the sharpness and intensifies the earthy richness of the garlic flavor. It’s subtle but oh-so-complimentary to ooey, gooey noodles and cheese.
What Are the Best Noodles for Mac and Cheese?
Opt for any type of short pasta so that it can stand up to the thick and creamy cheese sauce. Any of the below options are all great noodles for mac and cheese:
- Cavatappi (a.k.a. corkscrew)
How to Make a Breadcrumb Topping for Mac and Cheese
I love the added textural contrast of crispy, toasted breadcrumbs atop a bed of creamy garlic mac and cheese. A simple mix of Japanese Panko breadcrumbs (superbly crunchy!), unsalted butter and freshly chopped chives makes for the ultimate mac and cheese topping.
Ready to get cooking? Bring the water to a boil and read on for my go-to recipe for Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese that can be made in advance and baked until bubbling right before serving.
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For crumb topping:
- 4 Tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
- 2 cups Panko Japanese bread crumbs
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives
For pasta and sauce:
- 1 head garlic
- Olive oil
- 1 pound uncooked pasta (such as cavatappi, shells or rigatoni)
- 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5 cups whole milk
- 5 1/2 cups coarsely shredded cheddar cheese (white, yellow or a mix of both)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Make the crumb topping:
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and chives, stirring to combine. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until toasted slightly. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Make the pasta and sauce:
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Slice the top one-third off the head of garlic. Place the bottom portion on a piece of foil, drizzle it with olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper. Place the top portion back on the head of garlic and crumple the foil to create a sealed packet. Roast the garlic until golden and soft, about 45 minutes.
- Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and squeeze the cloves into a bowl. Using a fork, mashing the cloves into a paste. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water. Butter a 13×9-inch shallow baking dish.
- In a large, heavy saucepot (such as a Dutch oven), melt 1 stick butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and reserved garlic paste. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes until golden. Whisk in the milk. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, mustard powder, salt and pepper until well combined.
- Add the pasta and the reserved ½ cup of pasta water to the pot, stirring to combine. (It will be soupy.) Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle it with the reserved crumb topping and place it on a sheet tray (in the event it bubbles over while baking). Bake the macaroni and cheese for 20 to 25 minutes until it’s golden brown and bubbling.
- The garlic head can be roasted, and the garlic gloves mashed, 1 day in advance. Store the garlic paste, covered, in the fridge.
- The macaroni and cheese can be baked in a large baking dish or several smaller ramekins for individual servings.
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Recipe inspired by Epicurious.