Crusty Mac and Cheese

Updated 11.4.21.

A lot of the recipes I post on my blog are clipped from newspapers and magazines and sent to me in an envelope by my grandma who lives in Wisconsin. The normal process when I receive one of my grandma’s envelopes is to pull out the recipes I want to make immediately and either enter them as a draft on my web site or set them aside and forget about them. This is one of those I set aside!

I found it buried under a pile of crap on the kitchen island when I was cleaning on Friday. Truthfully, I didn’t remember setting it aside. But when I found it, I was glad I had. I’m always on the lookout for new mac and cheese recipes and know that my dad is always willing to test them.

This recipe for Maya’s Macaroni & Cheese found at ParkSide 23 restaurant in Brookfield, Wis was clipped from the You Asked For It section of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. I’ve never been to ParkSide 23 or even heard of it, which possibly means it was not around in 2008 when I fled the state. But heck. If someone’s asking for the recipe I figure it’s got to be pretty decent. Right?

I never understand why a recipe calls for grated cheese. Quite frankly I don’t see what the benefit is of using grated cheese versus shredded cheese. On top of that it’s freaking annoying to grate a brick of cheese – at least with my cheese grater it is. It takes forever and it seems as though you waste a lot of cheese that sticks to the grater. After a few minutes of attempting to grate the cheddar cheese for this recipe, I stopped and switched to shredding. The majority of the cheese I used in this recipe was shredded, not grated.

Other modifications of the above-listed recipe include using two pounds of noodles instead of a pound and a half, doubling the panko (reflected below) and adding additional cayenne pepper and salt. Also, I used an 11×15-inch glass baking dish instead of 9×13.

I found that you don’t need to cook/whisk the sauce for five minutes after adding the roux. My sauce thickened almost immediately. In fact, I probably added an additional cup of milk once all the cheese had melted. The cheese sauce seemed really thick which made me think it would dry out during baking. Lastly, I broiled the dish for two or three minutes after baking it for 30 minutes as the topping didn’t look brown or golden. This yielded a nice crispy coating which both my dad and my sister said they liked. The topping pretty much made the dish.

Despite the fact that I added what seemed like a boatload of salt to the sauce prior to baking, I felt (and my sister agreed) that the dish could have used a bit more salt. So if you like salt … do it up while you’re cooking! You won’t be sorry.


  • 4 T. butter
  • ½ c. flour
  • ¾ lb grated cheddar cheese (divided)
  • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 4 c. whole milk
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ lb Velveeta cheese cut into small cubes
  • ¼ lb grated Gruyère cheese
  • ¼ lb grated fontina cheese
  • 10 c. cooked elbow macaroni (about 1 ½ lb. dry), two minutes less than package directions


  1. Make your topping. In a medium bowl, combine ½ pound of the cheddar cheese and the panko crumbs. Mix with hands and set aside.
  2. Make your roux. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Slowly stir in flour using flexible spatula. Continue stirring and cooking 2 to 3 minutes or until pasty. Set aside.
  3. Make your sauce. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine milk, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and salt and bring to a simmer. Gradually whisk in the roux and cook five minutes, whisking regularly. Add Velveeta, Gruyère and fontina cheeses and cook over very low heat, stirring regularly until cheeses are melted and mixture is smooth.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine cooked macaroni with the sauce. Stir lightly until cheese sauce covers macaroni.
  6. Coat a 9×13-inch pan with vegetable oil spray. Place mac and cheese mixture in pan cover with topping. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes or until heated through and top is golden.

Recipe rating: 


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