Recipe: Mozzarella Stick Mac n’ cheese

Crust

2.5 cups Panko Breadcrumbs

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 tsp dried garlic powder

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 stick unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the baking dish)

Macaroni

2 cups elbow macaroni

1 12 ounce can evaporated milk

4 tbs butter

2 eggs

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp dried mustard

Pinch of paprika

2 cups Mozzarella, shredded

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

4-6 slices provolone (or other melty cheese)

To serve: 1-2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (homemade, or I like Bertoli’s Tomato and Basil)

Prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a glass loaf pan with butter and set aside. In a large bowl combine panko, parmesan, dried garlic and basil. Gradually add melted butter and stir to combine with crumb mixture until the mixture becomes the texture of wet sand. Add more butter or olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time if the mix is too dry to hold together when squeezed. Press the crust mixture into the baking pan, taking care to pack well into the corners. Using 3/4 of the mixture, Fill shell with baking weights in a sheet of parchment and blind bake until crust is golden. Reserve 1/4 of the mixture for assembly.

Meanwhile, prepare macaroni filling–

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook macaroni noodles 7-8 minutes, until partially softened. Drain and return to pan. Over medium heat, add butter to noodles and stir until melted. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, white pepper and paprika. Add egg mixture once butter has melted and stir until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in mozzarella and parmesan.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees f. Fill the panko shell halfway with macaroni mixture. Layer in provolone slices down the center, pressing gently to pack the macaroni noodles together. Add remaining macaroni until the macaroni nearly fills the pan, about a 1/4 of an inch from the rim of the pan. Top with the remaining panko breadcrumb mixture, making sure the breadcrumbs reach the corners of the dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and the center is bubbling.

Allow to cool 10 minutes. Loosen the edges of the casserole with a dull knife. Place a serving dish over the top of the pan and– using potholders– carefully invert the pan onto the dish, shaking the pan slightly until the crust releases from the pan. Top with your favorite tomato sauce, and serve!

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