When it comes to lighting up kids' palettes, it's tough to go wrong with macaroni and cheese. And in the Motor City, boy, do we love it. So much, in fact, that there's a Motown Macdown fundraiser event that rolls into the Royal Oak Music Theatre in December, pitting some seriously talented restaurants against each other to win over your taste buds. And it all benefits a great cause: Justin's Vision, a Ferndale-based nonprofit that helps Michigan children with life-threatening illnesses enjoy a carefree vacation experience with their families.
Ready to get in a cheesy-pasta frame of mind? Event organizers were kind enough to share the recipe from the 2011 champion – Rattlesnake Club in Detroit, whose creation was invented by executive chef Chris Franz. It's truly a hometown original, even featuring some chips from Detroit's own Better Made, along with a few types of cheese and, of course, many a chef's favorite secret ingredient: bacon! Whip up a batch for dinner tonight.
- 1 Tbsp. salt, plus more for pasta water
- 1 lb. cavatappi pasta (spiral tube-shaped macaroni)
- 6 Tbsp. butter
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 oz. Romano cheese, shredded
- 8 oz. Asiago cheese, shredded
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 small bag (1.5 oz.) Better Made Sweet Barbecue Potato Chips, crushed
- 6 strips bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- In large pot filled with water, add three pinches of salt and the pasta; place over high – heat. Bring to a boil and let cook until al dente, about eight minutes. Drain. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter. Add shallots and cook until translucent but not brown. – Sprinkle flour over butter and shallot mixture and cook 2-3 minutes on medium heat, stirring until a roux (or paste) forms. Add cold milk and whisk vigorously until dissolved. Cook sauce on medium-low heat until thick and bubbly. Add heavy cream, all cheeses, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Cook until cheeses are fully melted, stirring occasionally.
- Add cooked cavatappi to cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. Place pasta mixture in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
- In a food processer, place panko, bacon and chips; pulse three or four times until blended. Sprinkle mixture over pasta.
- Place in the oven and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Top with fresh parsley and serve.
- For variations, add cooked lobster meat, truffle oil and/or garden fresh vegetables.