Last night, I had to feed a craving... a craving for something rich and creamy, warm and comforting. I wanted, no *needed* macaroni and cheese. And no blue box concoction would do. In fact, I took it a few steps beyond your standard from-scratch recipe by using a blend of five cheeses, and topping it with crunchy panko crumbs and fresh herbs. This was most certainly not your momma's macaroni and cheese - it was simply decadent.
Jen's Decadent Mac & Cheese
2 cups medium shell pasta
4 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 2 tbsp. for topping
2 cups whole milk
about 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups finely shredded/grated cheese (I used 1.5 cups of Grafton 8 yr. Reserve Cheddar, 1 cup cave-aged Gruyere, 1 cup imported Italian Fontina, and 1/4 cup each aged Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano)
1/2 cup panko crumbs (a Japanese dry breadcrumb)
1 tbsp. each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
Cook pasta according to package directions until just under al dente.
Meanwhile, in a wide saucepan, make a bechamel by melting 4 tbsp. butter with 4 tbsp. flour, then whisking in milk until all are smooth and well combined. Once this thickens, add a grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp., and stir. Add cheeses a little at a time, stirring until melted and well combined. Add the cooked and well-drained pasta to the cheese mixture, tossing well.
Pour pasta and cheese mixture into a baking dish. Combine choppped herbs with panko crumbs and spread evenly over the top, coating well. Break up the remaining 2 tbsp. of butter into little bits and scatter over the top. Place in a 350 degree oven, uncovered, until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling.
Approx. 4 main-course servings, or 6-8 as a side.Posted by jenblossom on January 31, 2005 | TrackBack