Easy Weeknight Dinner: No-Boil Mac and Cheese

Photo by Christina HomesPhoto by Christina HomesBy Sam Dean, Bon Appétit

Mac and cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods, but some recipes are so involved that by the time you pull the pan from the oven, real discomfort has set in, thereby canceling the comfort of the food. Huff! Why bother with a recipe that takes more than 30 minutes to cook? Well, you shouldn't, and you don't have to, because the BA Test Kitchen came up with a No-Boil Mac and Cheese that shortens the journey from dried pasta in a box to chewy, cheesy elbows in your mouth. Instead of fussing around with, like, boiling water, you mix the hard pasta with a slightly thinned-out bechamel and cook it in the oven--just add a little crust after 20 minutes, pop it back in, and eat it 10 minutes later (okay, maybe 15, if you don't want to burn your mouth). Maximum comfort: achieved.

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No-Boil Mac and Cheese
Recipe by Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
8 servings
Active: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 cups shredded cheddar, divided
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

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Preheat oven to 400°. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in milk and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, whisking often, until a very thin, glossy sauce forms, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove sauce from heat.

Toss pasta and 1 1/2 cups cheese in a 13x9x2-inch or other shallow 3-quart baking dish. Pour sauce over (pasta should be submerged; do not stir) and cover with foil. Bake until pasta is almost tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, panko, and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove foil from dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then panko mixture. Bake until pasta is tender, edges are bubbling, and top is golden brown, about 10 minutes longer. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

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