Friday, January 14, 2011

Five Cheese Mac 'n Cheese

This is a really good recipe for a homemade mac and cheese.  My children LOVE it and it makes a nice large casserole of dinner so it's great for guests as well.  The only step that I change from this original recipe is that I no longer bother straining the milk mixture but instead just pull out the bay leaf and thyme sprig, although sometimes if I don't have fresh thyme, I use a 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme in it's place.

Five Cheese Mac 'n Cheese

1 box (16 oz) cellentiani or macaroni
1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
5 Tbsp. butter
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups grated Fontina cheese, divided
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
3/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, divided
3/4 cup grated cheddar, divided
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, divided
3 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup bread crumbs

1)  Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Grease a 13x9x2" glass baking dish.

2)  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.

3)  In a large heavy pot, saute bacon until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.  Add onion to bacon drippings; saute until soft, 4 minutes.  Add butter to pot and melt, stirring.

4) Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until smooth and light brown in color.  Whisk in mustard.  Gradually add milk and cream, whisking as you do.

5)  Stir in thyme, bay leaf and salt.  Bring to a simmer.  Stir frequently, simmering for 15 minutes.

6)  Strain hot milk mixture into a metal bowl, discard solids.  Quickly mix in 1 cup of Fontina, blue cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, 1/2 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup Parmesan, the cooked bacon and parsley.  Stir until all is melted.

7) Add pasta to cheese sauce, stir to coat well.  Pour into prepared dish.  In a small bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup Fontina, 1/4 cup Gruyere, 1/4 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup Parmesan and bread crumbs then sprinkle over pasta.

8)  Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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