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Author Notes: Here's a fancy-pants take on an all-American classic. This incorporates fontina cheese for the way it melts so beautifully, as well as the nutty notes from gruyere. It's a rich dish that will please everyone! —Rebecca Wenstrup
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 pound small shell dry pasta
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- t tablespoons black pepper
- 1 pound shredded raw milk cheddar cheese (or other aged cheddar cheese)
- 4 ounces shredded fontina cheese
- 4 ounces shredded gruyere cheese
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons truffle oil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- In a large pot, place dry pasta and fill pot with water until the water is covering the pasta approximately 2 inches. Bring pasta to a boil and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta from water and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour to butter and whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes until an even roux forms (it will be like paste). Add the milk to the roux and continue to whisk until the milk is incorporated. Thicken over medium heat another 2-3 minutes until bubbly.
- Add the heavy cream, all of the shredded cheeses, salt and pepper and stir slowly until all of the cheeses are fully melted and incorporated. (If you are including truffle oil, add truffle oil to cheese mixture at this time as well.)
- Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and mix until evenly mixed. Pour and spread the cheese and mac evenly into a 9"x11" baking dish. Top with the panko bread crumbs. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until bread crumbs begin to brown.
- Remove from oven and top with fresh thyme leaves. Serve warm.