Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Best Macaroni & Cheese you will ever make!

I have yet to meet anyone with the exception of my husband and his Mum who do not LOVE LOVE LOVE macaroni and cheese.  I mean seriously what is not to love?  Pasta and gooey cheese all mixed together.  It is the comfort food of champions.  It is a staple side dish for us during holiday meals, doesn't matter what holiday it has got to be on the menu.  I have played around with all kinds of recipes and then got inspired by a recipe I watched Michael Symon make on The Chew.  I made his version with the bacon, onion, butternut squash, Gruyere cheese and mascarpone cheese.  The thing is, this was a very adult macaroni and cheese and while delicious my kids were not as enthusiastic.  They liked it but didn't love it.  It also called for panko bread crumbs on top mixed with more Gruyere... me and the hubby loved the crispy aspect but the kids... not so much.  My son does not like it baked.  So for Thanksgiving, I did a spin on his recipe and it turned out to be the best macaroni and cheese ever.  Even my Mom wants the recipe. 


  • 3 tablespoons All Purpose flour
  • 1 Quart Half & Half (plus 3 cups)
  • 1 Pinch Nutmeg
  • 1 Pound Rigatoni or Penne (your preference)
  • 1 Cup Good White Cheddar Cheese (I like Adams Ridge as it is not oily... nice crumbly dry cheddar)
  • 1 Cup Marscarpone (this is your secret weapon)
  • 2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs + 1/2 cup extra white cheddar cheese (OPTIONAL)
In a large pot fill with water and add a good amount of salt and bring to a boil to cook your pasta.  Cook for 1 minute less than the box says for al dente pasta.

In a large sauce pan (use a big saucier pan if you have one).  Melt butter over medium low heat (do not brown).

Once melted add your flour and whisk together.  Reduce heat and cook on low for a minute or two... do not brown, you just want to cook out the raw flour taste.

Once it has cooked on low for a minute or two, turn your heat up to medium high and whisk in your half & half.  Once half & half is all in, reduce heat to medium and add in your nutmeg.  Then just before it hits the simmer stage, start adding your cheddar cheese.  Incorporate cheese slowly and let it melt into the sauce whisking as you go.

Once all your cheddar is in, add the mascarpone cheese and whisk to incorporate.  Once all the cheese is in, let sauce come to a light simmer and reduce your heat to keep it simmering for about 5 minutes and then turn down to low heat.  Taste sauce and add a pinch of salt to taste.  I find good cheddar cheese based sauces, especially once you add the creamy buttery and sweet mascarpone often need a pinch of salt or little more.  Sauce will still be pretty runny which is how you want it.  

Once your pasta is cooked but not quite al dente yet, drain and return to pot.  Pour cheese sauce over pasta and turn heat up to medium and stir to cook and combine together.  It will seem like a lot of sauce to your pasta but the pasta will soak in your sauce as it cooks together and your pasta will be perfectly al dente and not mushy and the sauce will be thick and creamy.  Reduce heat to low and serve from stove top if you want after it cooks on low for about 10 to 15 mins.  OR

Pour mixture into a large baking dish and mix your panko bread crumbs and extra cheddar together and spread evenly over the top.  Place in a 400 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.