I made my own little version: it's a mix between Alton Brown's recipe and Emeril's recipe.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 pound penne pasta (use whole wheat, it's healthier!)
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milke
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 onion (red is prettier), diced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch cayenne
- 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
- 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
- Pinch of whatever spices you want! I recommend garlic powder, paprika, basil, and oregano)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles and onion and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and spices. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.