Mac and cheese is probably one of the first dishes that I learned how to cook—albeit from a box with fluorescent-colored orange powder. It was so good, even cold! This recipe is definitely a strong upgrade from an instant version, with a béchamel base, four different types of cheese, and kicked up with a bit of spice and crunch from the kimchi. Kimchi and cheese is a combination that is winning fans all around the world—at first bite you’ll surely swoon and taste why.
- 1 1/4 ounce salt (for the pasta water)
- 12 ounces dried elbow macaroni
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 14 ounces mixed cheese (blue, goat’s, Cheddar, Parmesan), grated
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 9 ounces cabbage kimchi, chopped
- Chives, finely chopped, to serve
For the Panko Crust
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 1/2 ounces panko breadcrumbs
Bring 12 cups water to a boil with the salt. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for just under 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, a little at a time, making sure to stir well so that no lumps form. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until you have a thickened and smooth sauce, whisking constantly.
Remove the sauce from the heat, add the cheese and cream, and stir until it is well combined and the cheese is melted, then add the chopped kimchi.
Add the macaroni to the sauce and mix well. Transfer to a deep suitably-sized ovenproof dish. Keep warm in the oven.
For the panko crust, melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, then add the panko. Keep tossing and stirring until golden in color. Remove the crumbs from the heat and sprinkle them evenly over the mac and cheese.
Scatter with chopped chives to finish and serve immediately.