This is the most American dish that I know of. We had this as a side dish with our BBQ Beef Ribs. This could be eaten as a main dish too.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups warm milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup Parmesan Cheese plus 1 cup for topping
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parsley chopped
5 strips Bacon
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare pasta (See Pasta cooking tips below)
Preparing the Bechamel Sauce
Melt butter in a heavy bottom skillet.
Add flour and stir until slightly brown.
Add the warm milk and stir until the sauce thickens.
Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
———-end of Bechamel Recipe ————-
Add dry mustard and cayenne to the Bechamel sauce.
Slowly stir in the Cheddar, Monterey Jack and half of the Parmesan cheese. Stir sauce until the cheeses melt.
Add 1 cup milk and heavy cream.
Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
In a separate skillet, cook the bacon. Set aside
In a bowl, combine 3 tbsps of the bacon fat on the skillet, panko, parmesan cheese and the chopped parsley.
Crumble bacon and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine Bechamel and pasta noodles.
Top with with Panko Cheese mix and with sprinkle Bacon crumble.
Put in oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
Pasta Cooking Tips
Add enough water to cover the pasta (around 4 to 6 quarts/pound). Enough water gives the noodles room so that they don’t stick to one another, and dilutes the starch they release.
Let the pasta water reach rolling boil point before adding salt (about 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt per pound of pasta). Adding salt right away makes the water boil slower. Besides, salt dissolves faster in boiling water.
Do not add oil to your pasta water. This only coats the pasta, not allowing the sauce to stick.
Keep your heat to high to bring the boiling point back up after pasta is added.
Occasionally stir the pasta to prevent it from sticking together.
Pasta usually cooks between 8 to 12 minutes. To check for doneness, bite a noodle and see if the middle does not have the white hard part. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it. This is what the Italians call “al dente”.
Do not rinse pasta with the exception of lasagna noodles and salad noodles. If you don’t rinse lasagna, it will stick together and it be hard to hard to separate them. Salad noodles on the other hand should be rinsed to remove the thin coat of starch that would make them stick together.