Thanks to Mother Cookie, I recently discovered the wonderfully delicious world of “In the Kitchen with David,” a segment that airs on QVC on Sundays at 12pm and Wednesdays at 8pm. It features an assortment of kitchen appliances, culinary gadgets, and everything else food-related you can imagine. It’s a foodie’s fun house, one that never fails to enchant me with all the culinary wonders. And then there’s the host, David Venable.
David is the definition of a foodie. Look up “foodie” in the dictionary, and there he’ll be, with his contagious grin spreading ear to ear as he dangles a forkful of his Ultimate Mac & Cheese just out of your reach. David towers at a staggering six-feet-tall, but he’s really just a big goofy teddy bear. He’ll have you smiling in no time with his famous happy dance and one-of-a-kind lines (ex: “It’ll make your tongue fly out of your mouth and hit you in the back of your head!”).
But David’s not just a jolly TV show host; That man loves food, and he knows a thing or two about it. If you don’t believe me, check out his cookbook In the Kitchen with David: Comfort Food that Takes You Home. It’s overflowing with delicious down-home recipes, all of which are perfect for the at-home cook. David himself is a home cook; he’s not pretentious or fancy-shmancy. He just likes to make food that tastes good.
There was no doubt in my mind that the first thing I had to try from of David’s cookbook was his Ultimate Mac & Cheese. Sweet baby Jesus, if you had just seen the photo next to the recipe, that was reason enough alone. But I was also enticed by the five kinds of cheeses. The more, the merrier! That’s the golden rule of mac & cheese.
By now, I must’ve tried at least a hundred mac & cheese recipes. To stand out, David was going to have to bring something spectacular to the dinner table. As expected from a fellow food-loving fool, David definitely did just that. His Ultimate Mac & Cheese is easily the creamiest and cheesiest of them all. It didn’t dry out while baking or suffer a critically uneven sauce-to-pasta ratio like most baked mac & cheeses do. On the contrary, this was overloaded with so much ooey, gooey, creamy cheesy sauce that my mind exploded from cheese-induced euphoria. Alas, my need for cheese has been satisfied!
Step aside, pasta. There’s a new star in town, and its name is 5-Cheese.
David’s Mac, besides being the product of my golden brown, cheese covered dreams, is also wonderfully flavorful. There’s no gimmick like brown butter or truffle oil made by unicorns; this is down-home, rich and gooey mac & cheese made with all the right ingredients. It’s the epitome of comfort food. Not to mention, it would make a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.
David, I’m definitely doing a happy dance.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- Over-baking is the easiest way to dry out a mac, so make sure you pull it as soon as it’s warm in the middle.
- Don’t like David’s cheese choices? Sub in one of your own instead.
- Breadcrumbs are optional. They weren’t in David’s original recipe; I just felt the need for a golden brown bed of crunchtasticness (sometimes, I make up words).
- For those of you intimidated by roux-making, this is the mac for you. No roux required!
- This is a very rich mac & cheese. Don’t complain, just enjoy. Indulging every once and a while is okay!
David’s Ultimate Mac & Cheese
Adapted from “In the Kitchen with David: Comfort Foods That Take You Home”
Yield – 6 servings
- 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 3/4 lb. cavatappi or penne
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack
- 8 oz. Velveeta, cubed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp. butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 4-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but still firm). Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat half-and-half in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Just before it starts to boil, remove from heat.
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in 2 cups of the half-and-half (this will keep the eggs from scrambling). Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk to combine.
- Whisk in 1 1/2 cups cheddar, all the mozzarella, 1 cup of Monterey Jack, Velveeta, and parmesan. Add the milk. Put back over medium-low heat and whisk gently until completely smooth. Whisk in garlic powder, onion powder, and remaining 1 tsp. salt and pepper. Do not let boil.
- Fold in pasta then pour into baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Stir together breadcrumbs and melted butter then sprinkle over pasta. Let bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown, bubbling, and hot in the center. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.