For some people, it's the sound of their mother's voice. For others, it's the touch of their partner's hand. For me, the ultimate form of comfort is mac 'n' cheese from my friendly neighborhood Panera Bread.
Panera's mac 'n' cheese is irresistibly rich and creamy. I can't think of anything better on a cold (or just bad) day. Actually, JK. I can think of something better: being able to make that mac 'n' cheese at home whenever I want!
So, I found this copycat recipe (from a blogger who could only stomach bagels and Panera's mac 'n' cheese at the beginning of her pregnancy, so you know it's legit) that's ready in just 20 minutes, and decided to put it to the test.
Making this mac 'n' cheese isn't particularly difficult, but you do need to keep both a watchful eye and whisk on your "roux" — butter and flour whisked together to thicken a sauce.
The next step is the real ~heart~ of this recipe: In your saucepan, you add white American cheese, extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, Dijon mustard, hot sauce (!!!), and kosher salt. Then, you mix it all up and combine it with your pasta.
So, what was the verdict here? Well, for one thing, I think I'm French now because I made a roux. Second, this mac 'n' cheese looked IDENTICAL to Panera's, and only tasted slightly tangier.
The only question now is: "Bread, chips, or an apple?"
I'll be testing lots of great dupes (and not just food!) in the coming weeks. Let me know your favorites in the comments! 👀