Mighty Mac-n-Cheese with Ham

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I have a love affair with mac-n-cheese. I don’t care if it’s from a box, from the freezer or home baked; I can’t resist it.  Lucky for me it’s a family favorite that I get to make often (and it’s simple too)!

Ingredients:

1/2 lb macaroni (I prefer double elbow), cooked

4 + 4T of salted butter

4T flour

1/2T mustard powder

1/2T granulated garlic

1/2T onion powder

1/2t paprika

1/2t salt

3C milk

1C panko bread crumbs

12oz of your favorite cheeses, shredded (I use cheddar, american and fontina)

8oz cooked ham, diced

A medium stock pot, a small saucepan, an 8×8 baking dish

Preheat oven to 350F

In medium stock pot over medium heat melt 4T of butter then stir in 4T of flour to make a roux. Scrape butter and flour over medium heat and “roast” it for about a minute then add paprika, mustard powder, garlic and onion powder. Stir until well mixed into an orange paste and then pour in milk slowly into the paste while stirring to prevent lumps.  Heat milk over medium heat stirring occasionally until it thickens into a thick orange sauce.

Meanwhile melt 4T of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir in 1C of panko until the breadcrumbs are coated with butter then remove from heat and set aside.

Reserve 1 C of shredded cheese and stir the remainder into your orange sauce until it melts and blends into a cheese sauce.  Stir in pasta and ham until well combined and then turn out into an 8×8 baking dish.  Cover with the cup of reserved cheese and buttered panko bread.

Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Let rest for 10 minutes out of the oven before serving.

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