Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

With all this snow and freezing temperatures I have really been craving big pasta dishes and comfort foods, so last week Denis made this mac and cheese for me. The recipe yields 2 servings but there was more than enough for left overs. I was expecting it to be very gooey but it wasn't, which was actually perfect. The pieces of bacon with the mixes of cheeses tasted so good. Denis used Panko bread crumbs instead of fresh, as the recipe called for, and the crunchiness was a nice touch to the mac and cheese.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
Ina Garten
Serves 2

4-ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed (I used a 1/2 cup of Panko instead)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumble bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes. (We actually used a 11 x 9 baking dish, and had left overs).

If you are using bread; place bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb over the top of the pasta. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce in bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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