Richmond Times-Dispatch

Patti LaBelle’sMacaroni and Cheese

- — Adapted from“LaBelle Cuisine” by Patti LaBelle (Clarkson Potter, 1999)

Makes 6 servings. Active time: 25 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes.

4 tablespoon­s unsalted butter, at room temperatur­e, divided

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded

sharp cheddar cheese 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded

Muenster cheese

1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta,

cut into small cubes 2 teaspoons kosher salt,

divided, or more to taste 1 pound elbow macaroni

(see note)

3 tablespoon­s all-purpose

flour

3½ cups half-and-half,

divided

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or other ground red chile, or to taste (optional)

Note: The macaroni and cheese can be assembled in the pan, covered and refrigerat­ed up to 25 minutes before baking.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter.

In amedium bowl, toss together the Parmesan, Monterey Jack, cheddar, Muenster and Velveeta. Reserve about ¾ cup of the cheese mixture for the topping.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the macaroni, and cook until just tender, stirring occasional­ly, about 6minutes. Drain the pasta, give it a stir and set it aside while you make the sauce.

In the same pot, over medium- high heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoon­s butter until it foams, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until the flour sizzles and turns blond without letting it brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups half-and- half. Reduce the heat to medium, switch to a rubber spatula and stir until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 ½ cups half- and- half and remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cayenne or chile pepper, if using.

Add all but the reserved cheese mixture and stir until completely incorporat­ed. Carefully stir in the cooked macaroni, breaking up any large pieces that may have stuck together, until just combined. The cheeses will not all be melted. Taste and adjust the seasonings, and then pour into the prepared 9-by-13-inch dish. Top with the reserved ¾ cup of the cheese mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 25minutes, or until the cheeses on top are melted and the mixture is bubbling and hot. Leftovers may be refrigerat­ed in a covered container for up to 4 days. Alternatel­y, slice the cooked and cooled macaroni and cheese into bricks, tightly wrap in plastic wrap and freeze it. Defrost and reheat in the microwave.

Variations: For a stovetop version, keep the pasta and cheese in the pot and stir over low heat until the cheeses are melted and the macaroni is hot, about 10 minutes.

Nutrients per serving: 767 calories, 48 grams fat (26 grams saturated), 132 milligrams cholestero­l, 1,350 milligrams sodium, 70 grams carbohydra­te, 3 grams fiber, 5 grams sugars, 35 grams protein.

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