There are as many versions of mac and cheese as there are "Housewives" franchises — all of which have their place in our homes. My skillet version is crispy along the edges and has a wonderful, crunchy breadcrumb topping, which is my favorite part. Broccoli and cheese make a great pair, especially in a baked pasta. You could substitute broccolini or broccoli rabe: Broccolini is slightly sweeter than broccoli, while broccoli rabe is pleasingly bitter.
Heat the oven to 400 F. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.2.
Meanwhile, combine the panko, parsley, if using, thyme, red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small skillet or in the microwave, pour it over the panko mixture, and toss to coat. Set aside.3.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 6 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until it is crisp-tender and the pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes more. Drain the pasta and broccoli and set aside.4.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until the mixture begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk, about 1/3 cup at a time, whisking until smooth between additions. Bring to a simmer, whisking and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the mozzarella, the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1 teaspoon salt, and whisk together until the cheese is mostly melted (the mozzarella may not fully incorporate into the sauce; this is OK).5.
Add the pasta, broccoli and lemon juice to the sauce and toss to combine. Transfer to a large cast-iron skillet or 2-quart baking dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the pasta is bubbling, and the breadcrumbs are golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken before serving.
Excerpted from ANTONI: LET'S DO DINNER © 2021 by Antoni Porowski with Mindy Fox. Photography © 2021 by Paul Brissman. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.