For some reason, Macaroni & Cheese is perceived as a bland, children’s food. (Don’t even get me started on the boxed version!)
But what about we adults? We like cheese. We like pasta. How about a grown-up version of Mac & Cheese?
Not to worry – America’s Test Kitchen has come to the rescue. The combination of cheeses blows the kid stuff out of the water – creamy with a little bite. As if that’s not enough – it’s super easy!
FOUR CHEESE MACARONI
- 4 slices good quality white sandwich bread
- 1 oz (1 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 lb mini penne pasta (you can use full-sized, if you like)
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2¾ oz (3/4 cup) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 4 oz Fontina cheese, shredded
- 1¼ oz (1/2 cup) Pecorino-Romano cheese, shredded
- 1 T butter
- 1 T flour
- 1½ cup cream
Preheat oven to 500º Fahrenheit.
To make breadcrumb topping, remove and discard crust from bread. Tear into 1″ pieces and place in food processor. Pulse about 7 times to get small pieces. Pour into bowl and add in 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) Parmesan, 1 tsp salt, and black pepper. (It’s easiest to mix with fingers.) Set aside. Into a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a full boil. Add in 1 rounded T salt and the penne. Stir immediately to prevent sticking, then stir every now and then, until al dente. (Don’t overcook – pasta will continue to soften when the cheeses and sauce are added.)
As the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheeses and sauce. In a large bowl, put the remaining 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) Parmesan, the Gorgonzola, the Fontina, and the Pecorino-Romano. Set aside. In a saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Turn off heat and mix in the flour, making sure you smoosh any lumps – this is your only chance to remove them. Cook 2 minutes over low heat, stirring continuously, to prevent that flour-y taste. Add in the cream and remaining 1 tsp salt. Increase the heat slightly to medium/low and stir until thickened. By now, the pasta should be cooked. Drain in colander, but don’t shake strainer. Immediately pour hot pasta over cheeses in bowl. Pour hot sauce on top. (Don’t stir yet.) Cover – I use a cookie sheet. Let set for 3 minutes to melt the cheeses. Remove cover and stir everything together. Pour into a casserole dish and sprinkle on breadcrumbs. Bake at 500º F for about 7 minutes, until breadcrumbs are browned. Sprinkle on a little chopped parsley, if desired. Can be served immediately.