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Serves 6

Gelatin comes in packets of 2½ teaspoons. You need about 2 packets here. Allow enough time for the mixture to set, at least 6 hours. Plastic wrap helps the mixture release more easily from the pan.

Canola oil (for the pan)
Salt and pepper, to taste
½pound elbow macaroni
1tablespoon canola oil
½medium onion, finely chopped
½cup chicken stock
2packets (2½ teaspoons each)
unflavored powdered gelatin
cups heavy cream
2tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
8ounces blue cheese, cut into cubes
1tablespoon unsalted butter
1cup panko crumbs
¼cup flour, in a shallow bowl
2eggs, lightly beaten in a shallow bowl

1. Using a paper towel, very lightly coat a 9-inch square pan with oil. Line it with plastic wrap, letting the excess hang over the edges.

2. Bring a large saucepan of generously salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Drain into a colander, shaking it several times to make sure all the water is out of the elbows. Shake the colander often for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

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3. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook the onion, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until tender and golden. Add the chicken stock and sprinkle the gelatin into the liquids. Turn the heat to low and whisk until the gelatin dissolves. Add the cream to the skillet and bring to a boil.

4. Pour the cream mixture over the macaroni. Add the chives and thyme. Stir well so the cream gets inside the elbows. Add the blue cheese and pepper and stir again. Pour the mixture into the pan and spread to make an even layer. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.

5. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter until it starts to bubble. Add the panko and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes, or until it is deep golden brown. Transfer to a shallow bowl and leave to cool.

6. With a knife, mark the macaroni and cheese into 6 squares (you can also make triangles). Using an offset spatula, lift them out of the pan.

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7. Place the flour, egg, and panko in a line on the counter. Dust each macaroni piece first with flour, then dip into the egg, and finally press the panko onto the surface. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

8. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Using a paper towel, very lightly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with oil.

9. Place the macaroni pieces on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of a piece is hot to the touch when withdrawn. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully lift the crispy macaroni onto plates. Gordon Hamersley

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