Tasteful Tuesday: SERIES: Mac-n-Cheese, Take 1
Alright. Let’s talk cheese. Mac and Cheese. Seriously, who doesn’t love a bowl of macaroni & cheese?! I’m hoping you have all had the privilege of eating a version other than what you find in a box, on a shelf, in your local grocery store. If not, now is the time! Once you’ve had it homemade, you’ll have a hard time looking back. (Unless, of course, you’re pregnant and find yourself having odd cravings for the box stuff like I did). Let’s gear up for those 4th of July parties coming up next month, by drooling over a 4 weeks series on the wonderfully delicious gooey-ness that is Macaroni & Cheese. All of these are scrumptious. If asked to pick a favorite, I’d be hard-pressed to do so.
I found the recipe I’m sharing today, last summer on How Sweet It Is. They called it, Four Cheese Baked Skillet Rigatoni. Rigatoni, Macaroni. Same dish, different shaped noodle. 🙂 Whichever noodle you choose, waaaaay yummy dish. Now. This one has some different cheeses in it. Some pricey cheeses too, I might add. So if you’re looking for a mac-n-cheese dish to make for a crowd with a lot of children, you may want to wait for next week’s recipe. We made a huge skillet of it for our family of 7, and I felt like the flavor of the cheeses was lost on the young ones. Actually, when we fist served it piping hot, it was slightly lost on us too. But as we sat and talked and ate, something wonderful happened. The cheeses cooled slightly. And THAT made ALL the difference. Suddenly the individual flavors of the cheeses began to show their true colors. Beautiful, glorious colors. I will totally make this again…some night when the Chickens are having Movie Night with the Grandparents, and it’s just Hubbs and I at home. And then, I’ll probably make it as an overloaded side, accompanying a grass-fed beef steak, and served along-side steamed brocolli. Geez, I just ate dinner and I’m making myself hungry just thinking through this whole scenerio . Mmmm…
Ready for some Gourmet Mac & Cheese at home? Then ya gotta give this one a whirl. The only change I made in this recipe was to swap the unsalted butter for the regular stuff. I’ve tried and tried to be happy with the unsalted version, but to no avail. For me, salted is the way to go.
- 1 pound mini rigatoni pasts (or any other “shaped” noodle)
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 5 TBSP butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
- 8 oz. freshly grated gruyere cheese
- 8 oz freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 oz freshly grated fontina cheese
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
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1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix all grated cheeses together.
3. Prepare pasta according to package directions, but shorten suggested cooking time by 3-4 minutes. You’ll want the noodles just slightly under-cooked at this stage, since they’ll finish off in the oven later on.
4. Time to make the roux! Heat a large cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet) over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. When butter melts, toss in shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic to shallots and cook another 30 seconds. While whisking shallot/garlic mixture, add flour. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. This will take some of the grain flavor from the flour, and will turn it a nice golden brown. Add milk, stirring constantly for another 1-2 minutes.
5. Measure out and set aside 1/2 cup of the grated cheeses. Pour the rest of the grated cheeses and the mascarpone to the skillet roux. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg (add more if you like!). Toss in pasta until it is thoroughly coated with the roux.
6. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of reserved grated cheeses and the panko over-top.
7. Now, place entire skillet into the oven. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbly.
Looking for more recipes? Check out what else we’ve been cooking on Bucktown Bargains!