Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

It was a rough week. A week tailor-made for the comforting goodness of gooey mac and cheese. And yet, I had not made it to the grocery store. My mac and cheese options thus narrowed down tremendously (why can't I get smoky cheese and bacon delivered to my doorstep RIGHT NOW?); I settled on trying a more basic mac and cheese recipe. After doing some research, Panera Bread's Mac & Cheese recipe looked delicious and more importantly, I had all the needed ingredients in the house. Suddenly, the week was looking up.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

I gathered my ingredients and perused the recipe. As usual, I lightened up the ingredients where possible: Barilla whole grain rotini and fat-free milk. To ensure that the flavor popped, I used an extra-sharp white cheddar from Tillamook. First, I cooked the rotini per the package directions and drained.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

Next, I melted the butter and then added flour, whisking furiously.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

After about a minute, I whisked in the fat-free milk and cooked the mixture over medium heat until it started to thicken. And then it was time for the cheese.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

I stirred in the cheeses, grainy mustard, spices and hot sauce and kept stirring until everything was smooth, melted and happy. The rotini went in next.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

I stirred everything together until the sauce and pasta were mixed and the sauce coated every surface of the corkscrewy rotini.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

It looked so creamy good in the pot; I almost couldn't wait to get it plated. But I managed.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

It was creamy and luscious, and the grainy bits of mustard gave it the perfect amount of subtle tang. Three elbows up! Okay, maybe three and a half. It was yummy. And I can attest that it reheated nicely in the microwave for breakfast the next morning with a little bit of milk added. I never caught a bit of the hot sauce so I might be tempted to double the amount next time. But overall, it definitely brightened my week! Here is my recipe, adapted from Panera Bread.

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese
 
Recipe Type: Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mac & Cheese
Author: Mac & Cheese Chick, adapted from Panera Bread
Prep time:10 mins
Cook time:15 mins
Total time:25 mins
Serves: 4 as a side
Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese
Ingredients
  • 1 13.25 ounce package rotini or other pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups fat-free milk
  • 6 slices American cheese, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp white cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon country Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta per package directions, drain.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter over low heat. Once melted, whisk in flour and cook for one minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Slowly whisk in milk, cooking over medium heat (and continuing to whisk) until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
  4. Remove pot from heat.
  5. Add cheeses, mustard, salt and hot sauce. Stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  6. Add pasta and stir to ensure that all pasta is evenly coated with sauce.
  7. Serve and scarf down immediately!
 

Yummy!

Panera Bread's Signature Macaroni & Cheese - Mac & Cheese Chick

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