Mac ‘n’ Cheese is great because its the quintessential comfort food, and since my husband and I are cheese lovers it seems like a fabulous monthly moral booster. This is one of those dishes that I will wait for my computer to upload every single photo, because this macaroni and cheese is so gooey, herbaceous and is the definition of comfort food to the extreme that even the pics are worth the wait. This recipe is one that Tim and made when we first began dating and he was visiting town for a weekend. Good memories of older times.
Elite Macaroni and Cheese: Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes: Active Time: 35 minutes: Serves 8-10 (This recipe can easily be divided in two to serve a smaller crowd).
- Kosher salt
- 1 (16-oz.) package macaroni, come type of spiral pasta
- 1/4 lb. bacon, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more to butter baking dish
- 6 tbsp. all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 2 1/2 c. 1% or higher milk
- 2 c. heavy cream (to cut some calories and amp up the protein replace 1 c. of heavy cream with one c. greek yogurt)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 c. Fontina cheese, grated
- 1/2 c. Bleu cheese, crumbled
- 3/4 c. Gruyere, grated
- 3/4 c. White Cheddar, grated
- 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated**
- 3 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
- 1/4 c. bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 450˚F and butter a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
- In a large dutch oven, sauté the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Saute the onion in the bacon drippings until soft. Add the 5 tbsp. butter to the onion mixture and melt the butter stirring with a wooden spoon.Using a whisk, add the flour, and stir constantly until well mixed with the fat making a roux. Whisk in the mustard. Gradually add the milk and cream whisking constantly.
- Add the thyme, bay leaf and salt. Let come to a simmer and stir frequently for 15 minutes***. Strain the hot milk mixture into a metal bowl and discard the solids. Working quickly, mix in 1 cup fontina, bleu cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, 1/2 cup white Cheddar, 1/2 cup Parmesan, the reserved bacon, and parsley. Continue to stir until all cheese is melted.
- Add the cooked noodles to the cheese mixture to coat. Add the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top of the noodles. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven when done and rest for 5 minutes.
*Thank you to Rick Massa for his Ultimate Recipe Showdown mac ‘n’ cheese concoction.
**Get the block cheese and grate it at home, don’t go for the pre-grated powdered crap, because if you use a good recipe but put crappy ingredients in, you will get a mouthful of… well… less than ideal mac ‘n’ cheese.
***If you skimp on the time of cooking the liquidated roux it will taste like flour. My husband cannot taste uncooked roux flour, but I certainly can, and so will all of the picky eaters (which I like to call a refined palate) you’re serving. To be clear, I will eat anything once, I like broccoli and eat my vegetables, but I am picky when it comes to poorly prepared food.