12ozelbow pastacooked for 5 minutes (see package directions)
4 tbspsfull fat butter
3 tbspsall purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1tsp. black pepper
2 1/2cupssharp cheddar cheese(save 1 cup for topping)
1 1/2cup white cheddar cheese
Bread Crumbs Topping
1 cuppanko crumbs
1/2 cupgrated parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, but only cook it for 7 minutes. Set aside.
On low heat, melt the butter in a non-stick pan/ skillet. Add in the flour and whisk or mix with a wooden spoon and continue whisking until the mixture bubbles up.
Gradually add in the milk, pasta water, spices, salt and continue whisking until the sauce is nice and smooth.
Add in the shredded cheese (saving 1 cup of sharp cheddar for later) and continue to whisk the mixture together until some of the cheese melt and incorporates with the sauce. Remember to keep the heat low. The cheese does not have to melt all the way because it will melt in the oven.
Next, drain the pasta from the water and add it to the skillet over the cheese. Toss the pasta around with the sauce to coat well.
Transfer the Mac and Cheese to a baking dish. Add a layer of shredded cheddar cheese to the top.
To prepare the panko crust, melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a non-stick skillet. Add in the panko crumbs, paprika and toast to give the crumbs a light brown color. Turn of the heat and add in the grated parmesan cheese. Mix together and top the cheddar cheese with the panko crumb mixture.
Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and top with some fresh chopped parsley for garnishing.