mac and cheeseWhen it comes to food, my children and I don't always agree. They think ketchup goes on everything; I prefer to leave it off of at least a few items, especially those involving chocolate. They consider chicken nuggets a divine dish; I consider them punishment. There's one thing we all agree on though: Panera has the best macaroni and cheese ever.

This recipe comes straight from Panera, and it's amazing. I'm not going tell you it tastes exactly like it does in the restaurant, but it's pretty darn close. It calls for white American cheese, but the orange-ish kind works fine too, though it won't look quite the same. Either way, it's way better than anything out of a box.

Panera Bread’s Signature Macaroni & Cheese

1 (16-ounce) package of rigati pasta (or other small pasta shells)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced fat milk (or cream)
6 slices white American cheese, chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Melt butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly.

Gradually whisk in milk (or cream); cook over medium heat, whisking until mixture thickens and bubbles. Remove from heat.

Add cheeses, mustard, salt, and hot sauce, stirring until cheese melts and sauce is smooth.

Stir in pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 minute (or until thoroughly heated).

 

Image via ellevalentine/Flickr