MILLION DOLLAR MACARONI AND CHEESE CASSEROLE

Make this Macaroni and Cheese Casserole for guests or family (think Thanksgiving!) and they will love you forever!  The homemade sauce itself is rich and crazy creamy and the casserole is stuffed with a  hidden layer of provolone cheese and sour cream that melts when baked for a ridiculous amount of velvety creamy, cheesy gooey goodness.  A million dollar worthy goodness.

I love a hearty pasta from my One Pot Lasagna Soup to my One Skillet Cheesy Penne but the most universally adored pasta has to be macaroni and cheese.  Just about everyone looooooves macaroni and cheese  – forkful after forkful of noodles bathed in rich creamy, cheesy, sauce.  Whether it started as a blue box obsession (or if that still remains, I won’t judge you), and advanced to homemade stove top mac and cheese, Buffalo Macaroni and Cheese, One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese or even Taco Macaroni and Cheese, homemade macaroni and cheese in all its varieties  –  when done right –  is one of the most comforting, cravilious foods on the planet.
And then comes the capital M in Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese Casserole – the provolone, sour cream filling.  The what?!  I know it might sound odd, but please trust me.  I got this idea when I was day dreaming about my moms Baked Penne which is a marinara based pasta with a layer of provolone and sour cream in between layers of noodles.  The best part of the pasta is the creamy, cheesy center, so then I got giddy dreaming about what this filling would taste like cradled in between cheese smothered noodles instead of marinara smothered noodles.

This mega creamy Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese Casserole is the only macaroni cheese recipe you will ever want to make!  Make this Macaroni and Cheese for guests or family and they will love you forever!  The homemade sauce itself is rich and crazy creamy and the casserole is stuffed with a  hidden layer of provolone cheese and sour cream that melts when baked for a ridiculous amount of velvety creamy, cheesy gooey goodness.  A million dollar worthy goodness.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pound cellentani pasta (may sub rigatoni, penne or macaroni)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp EACH onion pwdr, garlic pwdr, dried parsley, salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6-8 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Panko Topping (optional)
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Cook pasta just until al dente according to package directions – don’t overcook! Strain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.
  3. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat then whisk in flour. Cook, while stirring for 2 minutes. Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in milk. Whisk cornstarch into evaporated milk and gradually add to skillet followed by Dijon mustard and all remaining spices/seasonings.
  4. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly then reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened (but not overly thick). Remove from heat and whisk in sharp cheese until melted. Add pasta and toss until evenly coated (it will seem like a lot of extra sauce which is a good thing).
  5. Pour half of the macaroni and cheese into prepared baking dish. Layer macaroni evenly with provolone cheese followed by an even layer of sour cream. Pour remaining macaroni and cheese over sour cream and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan cheese (or more to taste).
  6. Panko topping (optional): Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and inside provolone is melted. If not topping with panko, broil until Parmesan is golden. Cool 10 minutes to set before serving.

RECIPE NOTES
***I DO NOT RECOMMEND ASSEMBLING THIS AHEAD OF TIME.  The pasta seeps up the sauce.  Instead, you can prepare the sauce and refrigerate separate from the pasta.  Cook the pasta, toss it in a touch of olive oil so it doesn't stick together, and refrigerate.  When ready to assemble, warm the sauce (you can do this in the microwave).  You might need to add a touch of milk to thin, then proceed as instructed.  This prep will make assembly come together quite quickly.

*You just need enough provolone to cover the 9x13 in a single layer. Typically 8 slices medium provolone or 6 large slices as pictured from Costco. Gouda slices would also be delicious.
***Feel free to swap cheeses for a combination of whatever you have on hand - Asiago, Gouda, smoked cheddar, Monterrey, etc - the possibilities are endless! You can also mix in bacon, ham, etc.
**I find this pasta equally delicious without the panko topping as the Parmesan cheese topping bakes to golden perfection 🙂

Recipe Source:carlsbadcravings.com

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