A lot of times, mac and cheese looks creamy before you place it in the oven, but by the time it's done cooking it looks dry. This recipe asks you to aggressively undercook your pasta initially, and also to aggressively over-sauce the pasta. When you first place this mac and cheese in the oven, you might feel anxious because your noodles are undercooked and it looks like a LOT of sauce, but after about 15 minutes in the oven and then a couple minutes more under the broiler, this mac and cheese comes out perfectly creamy, with noodles that are nicely cooked rather than completely limp and overcooked. —Josh Cohen
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons flour
aged provolone, grated
asiago fresco, grated
pasta (cavatappi or your favorite short tubular pasta shape)
fresh mozzarella, grated
In This Recipe
Set a large pot of water over high heat. This will be for your pasta. While you wait for that water to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking consistently. When you begin to add the milk, a paste will form. Keep adding milk and whisk until you see a smooth liquid with no lumps. Simmer this sauce sauce until it begins to thicken, with a consistency of thin gravy.
When the sauce has begun to thicken, reduce the heat to low and add in the provolone, asiago, and fontina cheese. Stir until all the cheese has melted. Taste the sauce, and add salt until the sauce tastes fully savory and delicious. When you like how the sauce tastes, keep it warm using the lowest heat possible.
By now your water should be boiling. Add salt so that your pasta water tastes like a nicely seasoned soup. Cook your pasta for half the amount of time suggested on the box. You want to undercook your pasta here, because it will continue cooking when you bake the mac and cheese in the oven. Speaking of which, preheat the oven now to 450.
Drain the pasta when it has cooked for half the amount of time recommended on the box. Add the pasta to your cheese sauce. Stir. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large and shallow baking dish. A lot of surface area is good, because that way you get more crispy bits when it comes out of the oven, and crispy bits are great.
Sprinkle the fresh mozzarella over the top of your pasta, and bake it at 450 for 10-15 minutes, until you begin to see the sauce bubbling up around the noodles. Next, broil the mac and cheese for 1-3 minutes, until the mozzarella on top looks brown and crispy. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I'm perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer's market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta.