- Kosher salt
- 12 ounces gemelli, cavatappi or other spiral-shaped pasta
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, chives and/or scallions
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, mustard and cayenne and stir with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 1 minute. Whisk in both milks and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened and creamy, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the cheddar and jack cheeses and all but 2 tablespoons of the parmesan and whisk until melted; keep warm.
Combine the panko, herbs and/or scallions, 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining parmesan in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the butter melts, about 1 minute; toss.
Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water, and return to the pot. Toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then stir in the cheese sauce, adding the reserved cooking water if needed. Season with salt and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
Photograph by Con Poulos