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Entertaining Kids? Build the Menu Around a Fave

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My new neighbor David cooked this for my family tonight when we went over for a Sunday summer dinner on his porch. It was Macaroni & Cheese served in a cast-iron pan. It wasn’t the only thing on the menu — there was delicious barbecued chicken and a cool slaw made with cabbage, jalapeno, mint, cilantro, peanuts, yellow peppers, and lime. The three dishes worked perfectly together and I was thinking that it was a majorly shrewd family  entertaining move. He knew the Mac & Cheese was substantial enough and universally loved enough to satisfy the kids should they not eat anything else on the table — but the preparation (homemade, it called for a roux) was also perfect compliment to the rest of the menu. I loved the way he served it in a cast iron pan, too. Here’s how you make it: Prepare about a pound of any short pasta according to package directions. Melt a half stick of butter in a large skillet. Once melted, pour half of butter into a small bowl of plain bread crumbs. Return skillet to medium heat and whisk in about 2 tablespoons of flour, then slowly pour in 2 cups of chicken broth and milk mixed together. Bring to a boil and heat until thickened slightly. Add 1 1/2 cups of “whatever cheese you’ve got” (that was David’s line) which in this case was Comte and shredded cheddar. Once it’s melted, add pasta and a handful of chopped scallions and stir together. Mixture should be gooey. Add bread crumbs on top and broil for 3 minutes until bread crumbs are toasted and mac and cheese is bubbly.

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