Every Sunday, my family would gather around the dinner table and indulge in my mom’s famous mac and cheese casserole. I remember the way the cheese would stretch as I pulled my fork away, and the smell of the Parma ham that added a salty crunch to the dish. Even now, years later, I can still taste the comfort of this childhood favorite.
In my adult years, I’ve taken this classic recipe and added a few twists. I’ve kept the original flavor but changed up the ingredients so that the dish is even more indulgent. I substitute the macaroni for a combination of cavatappi, penne and shells, and the cheese is a mixture of sharp cheddar and gruyère. I also add Parma ham for an extra layer of flavor.
This mac and cheese casserole is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night. It’s creamy, cheesy and oh-so comforting. Serve it with a salad or a side of roasted vegetables for a complete meal.
- For a smoky flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika to the cheese mixture.
- For a flavor boost, add 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the cheese mixture.
- For a healthier version, use low-fat milk and reduced-fat cheeses.
- For a vegetarian version, omit the Parma ham and use a combination of mushrooms and roasted vegetables instead.
Indulgent Mac and Cheese Casserole
- 9x13 inch baking pan, large pot, colander, medium-sized bowl
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 1 pound shells pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 0.25 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 3 cups gruyère cheese, shredded
- 0.5 pound Parma ham, chopped
- 0.25 cup parsley, chopped
- null Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the cavatappi, penne and shells and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in the milk, garlic powder, onion powder and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese, gruyère cheese, Parma ham and parsley until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.