1 pound macaroni
1 cup panko bread crumbs
MELT in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, 1/4 cup butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux.
WHISK the half-and-half in slowly and bring the mixture to a low simmer, whisking frequently. Cook until the roux thickens, 6 to 8 minutes.
ADD the Velveeta cheese cubes gradually, whisking to melt the cheese. Whisk in 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, kosher salt and white pepper. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if desired. This makes a scant 4 cups cheese sauce; the cheese sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and covered and refrigerated before using.
COOK the macaroni according to the instructions on the package until al dente. Drain and set aside.
While the macaroni is cooking, make the panko topping:
MIX together in a small mixing bowl the panko bread crumbs and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmesan. Drizzle over the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter, stirring well to combine.
HEAT the oven to 450°.
HEAT the cheese sauce in a large pot over low heat to warm, then gently stir in the macaroni until well mixed. Spoon the macaroni and cheese into a greased 13- by 9-inch baking dish, then sprinkle over the panko topping. Cover the pan with a layer of greased foil.
BAKE the macaroni and cheese for 15 minutes to warm through, then remove the foil and continue to bake until the topping is golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Nutrition information: For each of 12 servings: 436 calories, 17 grams protein, 40 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 23 grams fat, 14 grams saturated fat, 70 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams sugar, 898 milligrams sodium.