I created this recipe for a new cheese that I recently discovered called Fontiago that marries Fontina with Asiago in one creamy, tangy, aromatic cheese. It was created by Roth Käse cheese company in Wisconsin and can be purchased online at www.rothkase.com. However, you can also just buy some Fontina and Asiago cheese and use those instead. As the macaroni 'n cheese cooks in the oven, the aroma is deliciously reminiscent of wood-fired pizza, thanks to the smoky pancetta and nutty Fontiago. It's easy enough for a mid-week dinner yet sophisticated enough to serve for company, especially when paired with a side salad and red wine.
8 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound medium pasta shells
8 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
4 cups (16 ounces) Wisconsin Fontiago Cheese, grated OR 2 cups Fontina and 2 cups Asiago, grated
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add pancetta. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and olive oil, mixing with your fingertips. Set aside.
Cook pasta in salted water, about 2 minutes short of being fully cooked; it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain the cooked pasta, but do not rinse. Place in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Gradually add milk, whisking continuously until it reaches a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, or until thick and bubbly.
Add cooked pancetta, Fontiago cheese, cream sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, basil and parsley. Stir well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges.