Baked Mac & Cheese with a Crispy Crumb Topping

Wednesday 3 October 2018

I have to say that I am a real fan of Mac & Cheese.  I have my favourite versions that I make but I confess that when I see a new recipe for it, I am always tempted to give it a go.  

Can there ever be too many recipes for Mac & Cheese?  I think not! 

This recipe I am sharing today is adapted from one I found in a cookery book entitled Cooking From  A Country Farmhouse by Susan Wyler, which was published in 1993.  

Its a great book, filled with lots of lovely recipes.  Nothing outrageous or pretentious.  Just good home style recipes.

What intrigued me most about this recipe was the crispy crumb topping.  I always top my mac & cheese with something crisp, either buttered bread or cracker crumbs, but this crumb topping was so much more than that.

Sturdy white bread is blitzed together with a shallot, some garlic, parsley and seasonings.  I added a bit of Parmesan Cheese because it has been my experience that a bit of cheese works well in this sort of thing.  

This is such a fragrant mixture, and in my opinion, nothing bad could come from it!  A food processor does a great job at prepping the ingredients for the topping.

The sauce for the Mac & Cheese is just a simple cheese sauce, with plenty of cheese.  You will want to use a well flavoured cheddar for this.  

Choose a strong farmhouse cheddar. I never use dyed cheddar, only white.  You don't want to skimp on the type of cheese you use here. 

This is Mac & CHEESE!  The Cheese is everything!  I also added some Parmesan to the mix.  In my opinion it adds a special something, a certain je ne sais quois!  Also, I cannot stress the importance of grating your own cheese, instead of using already grated cheese.  

They add things to already grated cheese to make sure it doesn't stick together. You don't want those things in your Mac & Cheese.  

I used elbow macaroni.  It hugs the sauce . . .  but any tubular macaroni would work well, just so long as its not overly large and has some lovely little holes to drink up that rich and luscious sauce.

Today I chose to bake it in my iron skillet. 

I thought it would make for some lovely crispy edges . . .  I love crispy edges in things. Don't you? 

I was right.  Plenty of crisp edges  . . .  and there will be even more when I reheat the leftovers. 

Mmmm . . .  fried leftover Mac & Cheese.  If there is anything I like more than the original it is the leftovers heated in a skillet so you get even more crispy bits  . . .

So what did I think of this recipe.  I loved this! 

With its rich and luscious cheese sauce and that fabulously tasty crumb topping, this spelled WINNER WINNER to me!  I can't wait for the leftovers.

Yield: 6

Baked Mac & Cheese with a Crispy Crumb Topping

prep time: 30 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 55 mins
The secret to a great Mac & Cheese?  A really great Cheddar!  You want to use a fabulous extra strong Farmhouse Cheddar for this. Worth every penny.


350g elbow macaroni, uncooked (3 cups)
3 TBS butter
2 TBS plain flour
2 clove garlic, peeled and finely crushed
480ml whole milk (2 cups)
14 tsp salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
230g strong cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
45g grated Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)
2 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

For the Crispy Crumb Topping:
4 slices sturdy white bread
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
a handful of chopped parsley (about 1/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
2 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil


Make the crispy crumb topping first.  Put the bread
into a food processor along with the shallot, parsley, garlic and
cheese.  Pulse until you have coarse crumbs and everything is well mixed
 together.  Melt the butter together with the oil in a large skillet
over medium heat.  Add the bread crumb mixture, and cook, stirring
frequently, until golden brown and fragrant.  Set aside.

Place a large saucepan of lightly salted water onto the boil.

 the 2 TBS of butter for the mac and cheese in a saucepan.  Whisk in the
 flour and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the garlic and cook for
about 30 seconds and then slowly whisk in the milk, along with the salt
and cayenne.  Bring to the boil, whisking constantly until smooth and
thickened.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard. Whisk in the
cheese gradually, until melted.  Set aside.

 the macaroni according to package directions in the boiling salted
water. You want it to be al dente firm. Drain well and then stir the
macaroni into the cheese sauce, mixing well together.

 the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Butter a large baking dish.  Pour
 the macaroni cheese into the dish.  Sprinkle the Crispy Crumb Topping
evenly over all. Dot with butter and then bake, uncovered for 20 to 25
minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the top is golden brown.  Let
stand 5 minutes prior to serving.
Created using The Recipes Generator

It might be a bit of a faff to make the crispy crumb topping, and you could certainly just top it with just plain buttered crumbs, but . . . in my opinion, you would be missing out on something very special indeed!  Bon Appetit! 


  1. Certainly be making this. Love Mac & Cheese
    Have you ever tried putting fresh tomatoes with the skins taken off and chopped stirred in with macaroni before adding to the sauce

    1. I do that sometimes Julie and its gorgeous. I have also just sliced fresh tomatoes and laid them on top prior to baking. Always delicious! Hope you enjoy this! xo

  2. Yum but probably too many carbs for this duck. I cannot keep my bsl's in range. Oh well one can dream. Besides it isn't really a dish you make for one.

    1. NO, it isn't really a dish you make for one, and it is a once in a blue moon treat in this house! I freeze most of the leftovers in smaller batches to take out whenever I have a craving! xo

  3. That looks delicious! I'm sure the crumb topping makes it even more delicious.

  4. Snap on the "crunchy bits", which are invariably the favourite bits of most dishes for me. When I make lasagne, I generally all a layer of pasta on top rather than foil. That pasta gets really crisp and crunchy and I've been known to just eat that top layer :-)

    I didn't grow up with Mac & Cheese, though I read about it in American books. This sounds like real comfort food and ideal as the weather cools. I like your food processor as well - what a pity it's from outside the States as Sweden has recently decided to add a "handling fee" of £12 for every package from outside the EU, plus 25% tax on the value of the goods. Otherwise I'd buy it in a flash. As I get older and the arthritis kicks in, I find that I need good tools in the kitchen to help chop things.

    1. LOL Marie, are you sure we aren't twins? I think that company delivers all over the works, but I can imagine how it might stick in the craw to have to pay the extra money. Boo Hiss! Canada does the same thing. They even charge customs and tax on gifts over a certain amount. Its very naughty! Like you, My arthritis means I value good tools in the kitchen to help me chop etc.! Hope you will try the mac and cheese! xo

  5. Looks mom added tomatoes too..and I love a crunch toppong..sounds like a great dinner for fall.

    1. Its the perfect fall dinner Monique. I love Mac and Cheese with tomatoes. Its my favourite version. xo


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