Home made mac-n-cheese has been getting a lot of press as of late, with quite a few "quick fix" and "Stove Top" recipes. This is not one of those, but rather a little twist in the Italian direction of the original style.
Ingredients: Photos by Jon Feldman
- 1 lb. short pasta, like elbows or farfalle. (Even though I used ziti in the photos)
- 3/4 cup Fontina cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I alway use white cheese, but your choice)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups Milk
- 1/2 cup 1/2 and 1/2
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh, if possible)
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Fresh parsley for garnish
Bring eight cups of water to a boil, cook pasta "al dente" and set aside. Do not rinse as this will wash off starch and the sauce will not stick to the pasta as well, even this cheesy sticky sauce.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Next we make a roux. A roux is a butter/flour mixture that adds flavor and thickens the final product.
Melt the butter in a sauce pot over medium heat. and add in the onions. Cook for about 2 minutes until onions are soft. Next add the four and mix thoroughly and let sit for a minute to cook out the flour taste.
Now turn the roux into a béchamel sauce by adding the milk, 1/2 and 1/2, and nutmeg. Stir until the pasty flour mixture dissolves into the milk mixture.
Time to add the cheese. Slowly mix in the fontina, mozzarella, and cheddar until completely melted. A nice thick cheesy mixture should be the result. Add milk if the mixture doesn't look like it will mix well with the pasta.
Take a baking pan, and pour some of the cheesy paste on the bottom of the pan and spread evenly. You can butter the pan if you choose, but I have not had any sticking issues with this recipe.
Mix your pasta and the cheese sauce, reserving about 1/4 cup to coat the top. Add your pasta mixture to the lined baking pan. Now spread the rest of the cheese sauce on top and spindle the panko bread crumbs evenly.
until a nice golden brown crust appears on top.