I recently came across this recipe for Panera Mac and Cheese and knew I needed to make it on the next cold, rainy fall day that we had. I made a batch of it this afternoon while Baby T was napping (he is recovering from a cold and is ever so grouchy when he is sick.) I figured some mac and cheese would be the perfect antidote for his dinner tonight.
My first memory of going to a Panera was when I had my first job out of college. My apartment was just down the street from one and I would stop in all the time to grab a weekend bagel or even a loaf of bread to serve alongside dinner. I hadn’t been to one in years, but lately my family and I seem to be going all the time. I’ve actually never tried the Panera Mac and Cheese before, but I have heard rave reviews. I’m usually a Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil kind of girl, but after making this recipe, I might be leaning towards the Mac and Cheese next time. Or then again, I could just make this recipe again…
- 1 (16-ounce) package of small pasta shells (I used Orecchiette)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 and ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 and ¼ cup half & half
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
- 4 oz. white American cheese, chopped
- 8 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded
- Prepare pasta according to package directions in a large pot of water. Drain pasta and return cooked pasta to the pot.
- Melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.
- Gradually whisk in milk and half & half. Add mustard, salt, and hot sauce to pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.
- Add cheese by the handful, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.
- Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir until incorporated.
Source: Adapted from MyPanera.com and Annies’s Eats
Do you grab a bite to eat from Panera occasionally? What’s your favorite menu item?