Baked Macaroni and (Insert Cheese Here)

This gourmet version of baked macaroni and cheese makes an impressive, simple meal served with a nice salad or Spicy Green Beans. If you’re not crazy about Brie, substitute Gruy√®re or sharp cheddar for a milder but equally creamy variation. I also like cheapie cheddar with a little blue cheese for kick.

Serves 4

8 ounces dry pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
7 ounces Brie, rind removed (about 6 ounces without rind) and cut into chunks
salt and freshly-ground pepper
1/2 cup cracker or fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a medium casserole dish or 4 individual 2-cup dishes and set aside.

Boil pasta to al dente. Drain.

While pasta cooks, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring continuously, 2 minutes, to form a golden brown roux.

Stir in milk and cream. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously, then reduce heat to low. Add cheese and continue to stir until melted and smooth, a few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Toss in drained pasta, combine very well. The idea is to let the sauce soak into the nooks and crannies of whatever pasta you’re using. Pour into buttered dish(es).

Stir together bread or cracker crumbs with 3 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over dish(es). Bake 15 minutes or until topping is golden. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

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