Friday night rolls around and after a long week of work, a relaxing “night in” is in order. What better way to celebrate the week’s end but with a bubbling, rich dish of cheesy mac & cheese. Now I am very particular about my mac & cheese. I want my noodles cooked to perfection (no mushiness!), I want it extra creamy (no dryness!), and I want it super cheesy! I don’t believe those are unreasonable requests for my mac & cheese, however, I still have not found a recipe that delivers on my list of “must-haves”. I caught an episode of In The Kitchen with Stefano Faita (love him!) and he was mixing up one of his version of this pasta classic: Stefano’s Mac and Cheese. He recommended cooking the noodles to al dente to avoid a mushy mess after the final bake, and with a cheesy béchamel sauce as a creamy base, I had to give this recipe a try. After the noodles were finished cooking, it was time to whip up the sauce. Now this was a bit of a challenge as it took a lot of time, patience and constant whisking to produce a thick consistency without curdling or burning. Keep your eyes on the saucepan! Once the sauce was thickened, and after the addition of the cheddar, mozzarella, and Romano cheeses, along with some sauteed veggies, I crammed the cheesy mixture into a VERY large casserole dish (almost an overflow!). Sprinkled with oiled bread crumbs, diced parsley and fresh lemon zest, it was ready to bake. The recipe called for a 30 minute bake but I left mine in for a few minutes longer to get that crispy, crusty, golden topping. Time for the taste test! The noodles were soft but not overcooked. That is one check off my list! However, it just wasn’t creamy enough for my liking. Perhaps my additional cooking time was to blame! I found the cheese flavours were masked by the onions from the veggie mixture and I would leave out the lemon zest from the topping as it also overpowered the dish. Still delicious but does not win my Ultimate Mac & Cheese crown. I’m on the hunt again!