Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese
Ok ok ok..this is technically not “mac” (macaroni) and cheese. It’s RAD (radiatore) and cheese. And it’s RAD AF.
You can use any sturdy noodle here…I chose radiatore because, well, I found it at a grocery store and thought it was 1) really cool and 2) would hold a creamy cheese sauce well in its little crevices. There’s truly no important reason why I chose this pasta aside from those two factors. I think macaroni, rigatoni mezze, rigatoni, lumache, pumpkin shaped pasta or shells would also go well here.
This recipe is really straight forward. I like to let the cheese shine and I don’t really season with anything other than salt and pepper. However, if you love to serve up heavily seasoned mac n cheese (power to you) you can 100% add garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, mustard powder and any other seasonings that you like.
|4cups broccoli florets|
|2tbsp diamond kosher salt|
|4tbsp unsalted butter|
|1cup diced white onion|
|4tbsp all-purpose flour|
|4cups whole milk|
|2oz. room temperature softened cream cheese|
|5cups shredded sharp cheddar|
|1/2cup bread crumbs|
|1lb. pasta of your choice|
|Freshly cracked black pepper|
|Oven safe 4.5-5 qt saute pan or skillet|
Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tbsp of kosher salt. Blanch the broccoli by submerging the florets into the boiled water for 1 minute. Remove the broccoli and place the florets into an ice bath or under running cold water. Set the broccoli aside. Keep the pot of water on the stove and reduce to a simmer.
Add the unsalted butter to a large oven safe sauté pan. Melt over medium heat. Add the onion. Season with a generous pinch of salt and cook until tender and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
Bring the pot of water (from the blanching) to a boil.
As that water is coming to a boil, return to your sauce. Add the flour and whisk until it's absorbed by the butter (this is your roux.) Keep whisking until it's a light golden color, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking, until it thickens. Whisk in the cream cheese and 4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. Once the cheese is melted, taste the cheese sauce to ensure the seasoning is on point. If it's not, add salt, pepper or any other seasonings accordingly. Reduce the heat to simmer.
Return to the pot of boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until 1 minute before al dente.
Preheat the broiler on high.
Transfer the pasta to the cheese sauce. Mix until combined. Transfer the broccoli to the pasta and cheese sauce mixture, then stir it in until evenly incorporated. Top with remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. Finish it off with some cracks of black pepper, if preferred. Broil on high until the cheese on top is golden brown, about 1-3 minutes. Stand close by and keep an eye on it to ensure nothing burns!
Remove from the oven and serve immediately!
If the sauce seems too thick, add some pasta water or more milk to thin it out! I would do 1 tbsp at a time so you don't water it down too much.