This is the perfect crowd pleaser side dish to bring to a dinner party or cookout. Once baked off and cooled, it travels well, and if you lack confidence in the chef’s skills, crack ‘n cheese is a filling and reliable back up plan.
Crack ‘n Cheese
1 box large shells pasta
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
5 cups milk, heated lightly
5 cups shredded cheese (parm, pecorino, aged cheddar, and gruyere are my faves, but it’s a great way to clean out the cheese drawer)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup bread crumbs
Cook shells al dente. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 13 x 9 inch pan.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and melt butter. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook until the flour and butter mixture until the roux becomes caramel colored. Add warm milk, whisk to combine, and stirring frequently, bright to a boil. Let the sauce thicken, approx 3-5 mins, and add the cheese off heat. Taste for seasoning. Add the pasta and toss to coat. Put the mixture into the greased pan, and top with extra cheese and bread crumbs. Bake 30 minutes until bubbly and brown on top.
Serves 10-12 goons.