In her new cookbook, Southern from Scratch, author Ashley English calls this casserole "comfort food for any age at its finest," and that couldn't be truer. It has everything: pasta, potato chips and more than a pound of cheese. All you have to do is heat up some frozen vegetables (if you must), gather your friends, open the wine and your dinner party is complete.
Mac & Cheese with Potato Chip Crust
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
1 pound gobetti pasta, or similar short-noodle pasta
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed slightly
20 ounces cheddar cheese, grated and divided
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup crushed potato chips
1. Cook the pasta, al dente, according to package instructions. Liberally butter a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sauté for about 8 minutes, until browned slightly and fragrant. Add the minced garlic and sauté for a couple minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. Return the pan to the stovetop and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for about 1 minute, creating a roux, until blond and smooth.
4. Little by little, whisk in the warmed milk. Continue to whisk the roux for another 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and starting to bubble.
5. Add 16 ounces of the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in the onion mixture, nutmeg, hot sauce and a pinch of salt.
6. Remove the cheese sauce from the heat, and stir in the eggs until fully combined.
7. Combine the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce in the prepared casserole dish until the noodles are evenly coated with sauce. Top with the remaining 4 ounces of grated cheese.
8. In a small mixing bowl, combine the crushed potato chips with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Top the casserole evenly with the potato chips.
9. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top. If desired, carefully broil for a minute if you like a browner top. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.