Monday, April 16, 2012

THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS #77 (COPYCAT RECIPES) and Panera Bread's Stove Top Mac and Cheese

Panera Bread's Stove Top Mac and Cheese
My daughter has always LOVED Panera Bread, so when she landed her first job at Panera Bread, she was in heaven (yes, same daughter who loves to make sandwiches). She equally loves PB Mac & Cheese and what do ya know they even post the recipe for their amazing Mac & Cheese, the story is unbelievable, how one chef went all around the world to taste different mac & cheese recipes to come up with this amazing taste and flavor. This is my daughter's favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. If you love mac and cheese, I encourage you to try this.

The world didn’t need another mediocre macaroni and cheese. So Dan Kish, Panera Bread® head chef and former associate dean at The Culinary Institute of America, embarked on what became a three-year quest to create the ultimate version. While traveling across the country, he sampled about 150 versions of this classic American comfort food and tested 30 different recipes, primarily in his kitchen at home. “It’s almost embarrassing how much effort went into this single product,” he jokes, “and for a while I had the waistline to prove it.”

Kish sampled the dish at mom-and-pop diners, church potluck suppers, Texas steak houses, and even gourmet New York City restaurants. One of his most memorable experiences was at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese at Pike Place Market in Seattle. “They make their macaroni and cheese out of curd, and it was great,” he says. “It was inspiring in terms of achieving a very melted yet sharp taste.”

Kish’s final creation (see recipe the below or sample it any Panera Bread bakery-cafe) actually turned out to be pretty simple. It’s made from a blend of white Vermont cheddar and white American cheeses, plus a little cream and butter. The Vermont cheddar delivers the tang, while the white American supplies the wonderful consistency. Also key is the rigati pasta that Kish selected. It resembles a miniature snail shell, having one end that’s open, another that’s pinched close, and tiny ridges across its surface. This serves to nestle the cheese sauce in every nook and cranny.

Panera Bread's Stove Top Mac and Cheese
found st Smells Like Home, originally from Panera Bread

16 oz pasta shells
4 tbsp butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups milk or heavy cream
4 oz white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp Frank's hot sauce 

In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1-1/2 minutes whisking constantly.  Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through. 

This week's theme is: COPYCAT RECIPES
Please only link recipes with our theme!

If you are a regular to THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS Linky party, then link-up we're excited to see what you made this week. If you are new, please just follow our simple rules, so that everyone can enjoy the linky party! If you forget to follow the theme, your post will be deleted. Please don't feel hurt, just come back and link up a recipe that follows the theme. Thanks a million, we look forward to blogging with you!

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This Week's Cravings Upcoming Linky "THEMES"
Here is a complete list of the past and what's coming up next on THIS WEEK'S CRAVINGS!
April 23 - Picnic Recipes
April 30 - Mexican Dishes for Cinco de Mayo

May 7 - Mother's Day Brunch or MOMS Favorite Foods

May 14 - Egg Recipes
Your hostess for this party are: Tina from MOMS CRAZY COOKING, Nicole from The Daily Dish and Kristi from Veggie Converter. We host this theme linky party every Monday (and the party stays open all week long)! We hope to inspire you to make something with our theme or get an old post notice by linking it up to the linky party below. 
The LINKY PARTY is opened ALL Week!

PLEASE do not link more then 3 recipes per week.
This week's theme is: COPYCAT RECIPES
Please only link recipes with our theme!

This week's theme is: COPYCAT RECIPES
Please only link recipes with our theme!


  1. Nice sharing. Nice recipe. All the links attached are useful. Thanks for this post.

  2. i'm in love.. this was my all-time favorite when I was pregnant... and it's still the best mac n cheese around!

  3. I love copy cat recipes. And I love Panera also!


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