Perfectly creamy, cheesy and smoky; this variation of everyone’s favorite comfort food is a foolproof recipe that will make your family beg for more. The smoked Gouda and smoked paprika add bold and assertive flavors that will be a hit with both kids and adults alike. This makes a big batch so it can feed the masses.
1 pound medium shell pasta
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 ounces cream cheese, softened, cut into cubes
2 cups shredded smoked Gouda (8 ounce block)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and boil for 1 minute less than package instructions. Drain in a colander and reserve.
Add butter to melt in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle in flour and smoked paprika, and stir and toast for 1 minute. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking, making sure to whisk out any lumps, and simmer on medium heat until the mixture is thick, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the cream cheese until it melts and then add the shredded Gouda and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella by handfuls, stirring until smooth and melted. Season the mixture with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to thoroughly combine. Move the pasta to prepared casserole dish. Scatter the panko on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.
Tip: Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than indicated on package so it does not loose its form once baked in the cheese sauce.