• 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter (4 for roux, 2 for panko topping)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (ground if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup Ontario emmental cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Ontario aged cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Ontario Gouda cheese, grated
  • 4 cups short noodle pasta of your choosing (Elbow pasta is the classic choice, but you can use Penne, Rigatoni, Fusilli, Farfalle – whatever you have on hand.)


  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Pasta Instructions:

  • Fill large, heavy-bottomed pot with well-salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the short pasta 2 – 3 minutes less than what is indicated on the package. You want your pasta to be undercooked, as it will continue cooking in the cheese sauce when you bake it in the oven later.
  • Once the pasta has reached doneness (soft on the outside, raw/hard on the inside) drain and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Run pasta under cold water to cool and halt the cooking process.

Cheese Sauce Instructions:

  • Melt 4 tbsp butter in your large heavy-bottomed pot over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking constantly. Your roux should have the colour and consistency of light sand.
  • Combine all grated cheese in a bowl, mix and set aside.
  • Add mustard powder to roux and stir. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add bay leaf. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, for about 4 - 5 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove bay leaf, whisk in cayenne, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Slowly add all cheese, except ½ cup for the topping.
  • Whisk until combined and melted. If the cheese sauce is too thick (stiff and difficult to mix) slowly add some of the reserved pasta water until the sauce loosens to your liking. 
  • Add pasta and mix until all noodles are covered evenly with the cheese sauce.

Baking Instructions:

  • Divide evenly in oven safe bowls. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and Panko crumbs to cover the top of each dish evenly. Melt remaining butter and pour over the panko and cheese topping. 
  • Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 10 - 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

TIP: You can make this the day before and store the oven safe bowls in the fridge so they are ready to pop in the oven. Just be sure to REALLY under cook your pasta and allow for 20 – 30 minutes in the oven to ensure its warmed through.

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