For most of my young life I assumed that everyone ate Mac and Cheese from a box provided by the kind folks at Kraft. Those culinary geniuses had found a way to not only make noodles in the shapes of cartoon characters they also managed to package an ungodly amount of cheese in a silver powder packet. When I went go to elementary school I was horrified at the Mac and Cheese the lunch ladies would serve up. Clearly they had led deprived, Kraft-less, powdered cheese-less lives.
Now in my older years I fight the same fight with my kids…that Mac and Cheese is best when it doesn’t come from Kraft. This recipe has had some success at breaking the powdered cheese barrier. My youngest loves blue cheese pasta so he was a fan of the goat cheese in this recipe. It also calls for 8 ounces of noodles, but I probably added around 10-12 ounces.
And the shallots add a delicious crunch and make for excellent burps later. Serves at least 4.
3 tablespoons butter plus more for baking dish
3 cups sliced large shallots (about 6)
8 ounces small elbow macaroni (2 cups)
1 1/4 cups half and half
2 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce (such as Cholula)
2 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup crumbled soft fresh goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered, until shallots are deep brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook macaroni in large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally; drain well. Reserve pan. Bring half and half and hot sauce to simmer in same saucepan over medium heat. Toss cheddar cheese and flour in medium bowl to coat; add to half and half mixture. Whisk until sauce is smooth and just returns to simmer, about 2 minutes. Mix in pasta. Season with salt and pepper.
Spread pasta mixture in prepared dish. Top with shallots, then goat cheese. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.