Posted by: timscooking | March 16, 2010

Macaroni and Four Cheeses

Macaroni and cheese is often called the ultimate comfort food. For many of us, memories of the dish often begin with Mom taking that blue box out of the pantry, cooking the elbow macaroni and adding milk, margarine and a packet of day-glo orange  powder to the cooked noodles.  The resulting dish was usually more pasty than creamy and lacked in any real cheese flavor. In her defense, Mom didn’t have the variety of ingredients available that we have today.

Now, you can make Mom proud with a macaroni and cheese recipe that is easy to make and rivals any you might order in a restaurant. This recipe uses four different cheeses, feel free to experiment with different kinds as long as they are kinds that have a good melting quality.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. elbow macaroni                                          
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 3 oz. extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 3 oz. Monterey jack 
  • 2 oz. blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped herbs (basil, parsley, chives)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a separate medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the warm milk/cream mixture and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyère, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, blue cheese, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Stir until all of the cheese has melted into the cream sauce. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a greased 9 x 9 casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Add the fresh bread crumbs and chopped herbs and stir to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Serve as an entrée with a salad or as a side dish with your fried chicken or barbecued ribs.

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