Braised Green Mac and Cheese


From Atlanta Cooks at Home by Jason Hill, of Wisteria, CityBooks Publishing

2 cups dried elbow macaroni
Kosher salt
1 pound collard, mustard, or turnip greens
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, additional for the baking dish
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound grated New York sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2 1/2–quart, deep casserole dish and set aside.

2. Fill a large pot with water. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon salt and the macaroni, reduce heat to a low boil, and cook al dente (until it offers a slight resistance when bitten into), about 9 minutes. Empty the macaroni into a colander to drain.

3. Rinse and remove tough stems from greens. Pat dry and cut into strips. Heat the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and garlic and heat until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add greens and cook and gently stir until wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the cooked greens to the macaroni in the colander and drain. In the same Dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons butter with flour over medium heat and stir for 3 minutes. Gradually add the cream and stir until thickened.

4. Mix the parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary in a small bowl. Stir the cayenne, salt and pepper, and half the herb mixture into the cream sauce. Mix the collards and macaroni into the cream sauce in the Dutch oven.

5. Spread a layer of greens and pasta mix in the casserole, layer with the cheese, repeating the layers with remaining ingredients until casserole is full. Top with the panko and remaining herbs. Dot the top with remaining butter. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.