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4 Cheese Macaroni


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Member since 2006

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Ingredients

4 Tbl butter, plus 2 Tbl, plus extra to grease your pan
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
8.5 oz Romano, grated
1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces fontina cheese, grated
4 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 dried breadcrumbs, or a little more if fresh
(It's easy to make fresh, and the lighter, fluffier texture is a great reward. Through a couple of slices of stale bread into the food processor and add a drizzle of olive oil. Pulse until chopped, but not pulverized into dust!)


Believe it or not, I discovered the joy of macaroni and cheese as an adult. My boyfriend was a little suspicious when I made my first attempt at home . . . but this is now his favorite. I love the four cheeses. You don't have to stick to the recipe, here. These four are easy to find in any grocery store, but I often deviate and come up with a slightly different end product that is just as delicious. But as you're experimenting, keep in mind the flavors and textures of the cheeses you are selecting. Sometimes I'll add in a little pancetta (or a good, smoked bacon from your local deli), as well. The basic recipe is adapted from one by Emeril Lagasse, on the Food Network website, minus the extra "bam."


Ingredients


4 Tbl butter, plus extra to grease your pan


4 tablespoons flour


2 cups half and half


3/4 teaspoon salt


1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (use white pepper if you're concerned about keeping the creamy white appearance of your sauce)


8.5 oz grated Parmesan (I often use Romano instead, and cut back on the salt above)


1 pound elbow macaroni


3 cloves fresh garlic, minced


4 ounces grated white cheddar cheese


4 ounces grated fontina cheese


4 ounces grated gruyere cheese


1/4 breadcrumbs (a little more if you use fresh breadcrumbs, which are a little lighter and fluffier)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


In a heavy, medium saucepan melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over low heat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half and half little by little. Cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.


Remove from the heat, season with the salt and pepper to taste (the amounts above are really only a guideline, I never exactly follow a recipe in this respect), and half of the grated parmesan or romano. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Sometimes I add a little extra cream; you want the sauce to be thick, but not get all thick and clumpy on your spoon) Cover and set aside.


Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt and a touch of olive oil, and add the macaroni, stirring. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until macaroni is very al dente (this is very important! your macaroni should not be fully cooked--it will finish cooking in the oven, absorbing that lovely, creamy sauce). Drain pasta and return to the empty pot.


Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the garlic to the macaroni and stir to combine. Add the bechamel sauce (that wonderful creamy sauce you made above) and stir until well combined. Set aside.


Grease a 3-quart baking dish or casserole and set aside. In a large bowl combine 4 ounces of the remaining parmesan cheese, cheddar, fontina and gruyere cheeses (or the cheeses of your choice). Toss to combine.


Place one-third of the macaroni in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with one-third of the mixed cheeses. Top with another third of the macaroni and another third of the cheese mixture. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese mixture. In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs and a good handful of grated parmesan (about 1/2 oz)and toss to combine. Sprinkle this over the top of the macaroni and cheese.


Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the macaroni and cheese is bubbly and hot and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.


Pairs Well With


Notes

Believe it or not, I discovered the joy of macaroni and cheese as an adult. My boyfriend was a little suspicious when I made my first attempt at home . . . but this is now his favorite. I love the four cheeses. You don't have to stick to the recipe, here. These four are easy to find in any grocery store, but I often deviate and come up with a slightly different end product that is just as delicious. But as you're experimenting, keep in mind the flavors and textures of the cheeses you are selecting. Sometimes I'll add in a little pancetta (or a good, smoked bacon from your local deli), as well. The basic recipe is adapted from one by Emeril Lagasse, on the Food Network website, minus the extra "bam."

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