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Ali Allie | CoServ

America’s quintessential comfort dish is infused with the mellow, caramelized flavor of roasted garlic. The crunchy topping of chive breadcrumbs provides a delicious contrast to the bubbling, creamy mixture below. “The recipe is a marriage of some of my favorite ingredients,” Allie says. “My mom bought me a clay garlic roaster many years ago, and if you have one, by all means, use it for this recipe!”

Breadcrumb Topping
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups panko Japanese breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Pasta and Sauce
1 bulb garlic
Olive oil
1 pound uncooked pasta (such as cavatappi, shells or rigatoni)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
5 1/2 cups coarsely shredded cheddar cheese (white, yellow or a mix of both)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

2. Topping: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and chives, stirring to combine. Cook 1–2 minutes until toasted slightly. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. Sauce: Slice the top third off the garlic bulb. Place the bottom portion on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the top portion back on the bulb and crumple the foil to create a sealed packet. Place the packet on a baking sheet and roast 30 minutes.

4. Pasta: Cook the pasta in large pot until al dente. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

5. Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and squeeze the cloves into a bowl, discarding the skin. Using a fork, mash the cloves into a paste then set aside.

6. In a large, heavy saucepot (such as a Dutch oven), melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and garlic paste to make a roux. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden. Whisk in the milk. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in the cheeses, mustard powder, salt and pepper until well combined.

7. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the pot, stirring to combine (the mixture will be soupy). Transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the reserved crumb topping and place dish on a baking sheet (in case it bubbles over while baking). Bake 20–25 minutes until it’s golden brown and bubbling.

Serves 8–10.