Mac & Cheese

We tested this recipe more than any other in this book, or so it feels. The goal was the perfect mac and cheese for kids as well as adults. My sister-in-law Amanda's mom, Wendy, gave us her recipe, and we loved her tangy mayo addition, and I took direction from our kids, whose favourite (until now!) was a prepared mac and cheese with big chunky croutons with paprika. This recipe has just a touch of spice, but feel free to add a bit more cayenne. The penne noodle won, and the key is tons of sauce. 



  • 3 tbsp (50 mL) butter

  • 3 tbsp (50 mL) all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt

  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper

  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) milk

  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dry mustard

  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) cayenne pepper

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) grated extra-old

  • Cheddar cheese

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) mayonnaise

  • 3 cups (750 mL) penne

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped ham

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) large chunky dry bread crumbs

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) paprika

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted


Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and black pepper; cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. Add dry mustard and cayenne.
Cook, stirring often, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and mayonnaise.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and put back into pot. Stir in cheese sauce and ham. Turn mixture into a 9- x 13-inch (3 L) casserole dish.
To make the topping, in a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, Parmesan and paprika. Stir in melted butter. 
Spread topping over macaroni.
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling. Turn oven to broil and broil for 3 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Serve with salsa, Lee and Bo's Tomato Butter (page 186) or chili sauce.

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