Panera Signature Macaroni and Cheese
The macaroni and cheese served by Panera combines different flavors to add distinction to their take on the classic American dish. The star ingredients in the concoction are white American cheese to keep the consistency of the cheese and Vermont cheddar cheese to sharpen the overall flavor. The rigati pasta used in the Panera Macaroni and Cheese recipe holds the sauce well, allowing guests to enjoy cheese in every bite.
• 1 (16-ounce) package of rigati pasta or similar type of pasta (small shell)
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 1/2 cups 2 percent reduced fat milk or cream
• 6 slices white American cheese, chopped
• 1 cup shredded extra-sharp white Vermont cheddar
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- In a large pot, boil four to six quarts of water. Add the pasta shells to the boiling water.
- Bring the water to a boil again and stir occasionally until the shells are “al dente” or firm to the taste, eight to 11 minutes. Use a strainer to drain the water.
- In a medium-sized saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in the flour, cooking for 1 minute. Whisk the butter and flour constantly during this time.
- Pour the milk or cream gradually into the sauce pan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking it consistently.
- Continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens and bubbles.
- Add the cheeses, hot sauce, salt, and Dijon mustard to the mix, stirring until the sauce has a smooth texture and the cheese is melted.
- Mix in the pasta shells and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. It may require a few minutes more to thoroughly heat the mixture.