Classic Mac and Cheese

Mike and I went to Michigan to visit my brother A.J. and his wife Kristin to help with their new addition Anna Marie. One of the things we did for them was cooked dinner each night that we were there, so that they didn't have to worry about planning and making dinner for guests. We decided to make some good old fashioned Macaroni and Cheese.

1 lb pasta
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4-5 slices colby jack recipe
1/2 cup cubed ham, bacon of pancetta (optional)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
panko bread crumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Bring a pot to a boil and cook pasta for about 8 minutes. While pasta is cooking, bring a small saucepan filled with the 2 cups of milk to a simmer. 

Heat a deep saute pan over medium heat, add ham and cook until browned. Remove ham from pan.
In the same pan add the 4 tablespoons butter (this amount can be deceased depending on the amount of fat in the pan after cooking the meat). 

Once butter is melted, stir in the flour and whisk until combined and no lumps remain. Add the warm milk. Mix until a white sauce forms (congrats you just made a bechamel!). Add the shredded cheddar and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce thickens. 

When pasta is finished cooking, drain and put it back in the pan. Add the cheese sauce, the ham and mix well. Put half of mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish or cast iron pan. Place cheese slices on top of mixture. Add the rest of the mixture on top of the cheese slices and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes.

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