I made this gourmet macaroni and cheese for a dinner club last month, and it was such a big hit. Creamy and rich. Just right as a side dish but you can also use it as a main dish by just pairing it with a salad. Gourmet macaroni and cheese doesn't need to be difficult to make, but it certainly needs to taste extraordinary.
Ingredients for Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese
1 lb. Rigatoni pasta 1 ½ Tbsp. parsley, chopped
¾ cup panko bread crumbs 1 tsp. powdered garlic
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated ¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 ¼ cups heavy cream ¼ tsp. black pepper
1 ¼ cups half and half pinch of white pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In a large baking pan, combine pasta and ½ cup bread crumbs. Stir until pasta is evenly coated with bread crumbs. Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine cheese, cream, and half and half. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese melts. Add parsley, garlic, salt, and peppers. Stir well. Pour cheese sauce over the pasta and bread crumbs. Stir gently until pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Top with remaining ¼ cup of bread crumbs. Use the back of a spoon to press the pasta down in the baking pan slightly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly toasted.
You could also add cubed ham and peas to the gourmet macaroni and cheese before baking to transform it more into a main dish. I've also added cooked sausage, cooked ground beef, and sometimes chopped broccoli or spinach. Try a few different ways to see which one your family likes the best!