41. Custard-Style Mac and Cheese
8 ounces small pasta shells or other small pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
3 cups grated mild yellow cheddar cheese
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and toss with the butter until melted.
Whisk the eggs, evaporated milk, cheese, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, 2 minutes, adding just enough of the reserved cooking water to make a thick sauce.
42. Tuna and Veggie Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, stirring in 1 can drained tuna and 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen peas and carrots with the pasta.
43. Philly Cheesesteak Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, replacing 1 cup of the cheddar with provolone. Meanwhile, sauté 1 sliced onion and 2 sliced bell peppers in vegetable oil; stir in 1/2 pound shredded sliced roast beef. Spoon over the mac and cheese.
44. Queso Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, replacing 1 cup of the cheddar with 4 ounces cream cheese; stir in 2/3 cup salsa. Top with crushed corn chips.
45. Ham and Corn Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, replacing 1 cup of the cheddar with 4 ounces cream cheese. Stir in 5 ounces diced ham and 1 can creamed corn. Top with chopped scallions.
46. Sourdough–Goat Cheese Toast 2 cups fresh sourdough breadcrumbs in 1/2 stick butter; add salt, pepper and chopped parsley to taste. Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, replacing half of the cheddar with monterey jack. Top with 2 ounces goat cheese and the toasted breadcrumbs.
47. Deli-Style Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, replacing the cheddar with 1 1/2 cups each grated Swiss cheese and caraway havarti. Top with crushed bagel chips.
48. Gluten-Free Toast 1/3 cup crushed gluten-free crisp rice cereal and 1 tablespoon chopped herbs in 1 tablespoon butter; stir in 1 tablespoon grated parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, using gluten-free pasta. Top with the toasted cereal mixture.
49. Baked Mini Macs Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese, using 3 eggs. Divide among 12 buttered muffin cups. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar and bake at 400 degrees F until golden and puffed, 12 to 15 minutes.
50. Southern Greens Make Custard-Style Mac and Cheese; stir in 2 cups cooked chopped collard greens, and hot sauce to taste. Top with crushed butter crackers.
Photographs by Johnny Miller