Three cheese Mac with Aged Cheddar, Gruyere, and Shaved Parmesan
Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 30 mins Serves: 2
Sometimes you just want your food to give you a big hug. This recipe does that with a perfect mix of a creamy cheese sauce and a crispy caramelized top. There isn't anything complicated about mac and cheese, but there are some tricks to ensure you get the best results. Chief among these is to start your cheese sauce with a bechamel, and be very liberal with the sauce when assembling. The three cheeses I used are all rather sharp, which provides a robust flavor. The Parmesan also browns nicely under the broiler. Season your sauce well and don't skimp on the cheese and you'll have the best batch of mac n' cheese you've even made.
- 2 cups elbow pasta (or another small, hollow pasta like ditalini)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 + 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1 cup shredded aged white cheddar+ 1/4 cup shredded extra sharp yellow cheddar
- 1/2 + 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan
- 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
- salt to taste
Place a large pot of heavily salted water over high heat. Meanwhile, place a sauce pan over medium heat and melt butter, stirring with a wooden spoon. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to form a roux, ensuring there are no lumps. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes over low heat, but do not let it begin to brown. Gradually start adding the milk to the roux, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, whisking constantly. The roux will absorb the milk and become very stiff at first. Continue adding the 1 1/2 cup of milk until it is all full incorporated. Begin adding the cheese gradually, letting it fully melt into the sauce before adding more. If the sauce becomes too tight, add in some of the reserved 1/2 cup of milk util the desired texture is reached. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
Add in your pasta to the boiling water and cook until 80% done. Strain the boiled pasta in a colander and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking process. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and heat through. Portion the pasta and sauce into small cast iron vessels or other heat proof cook ware. Sprinkle the yellow cheddar and remaining 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan liberally over the pasta and set in the oven under the broiler set to high. Make sure the racks in your over are not too close to the broiler or the sauce will break. Brown the pasta under the broiler until the cheese melts and a caramelized crust forms. Remove from the oven and let cook 2-5 minutes before serving.