Monday, February 11, 2019

I Love You Madly ~ Baked Macaroni and Cheese


It's true, I do. I love you madly.


And this Four Cheese Baked Macaroni and Cheese is all the proof you need.


Valentine's Day is just around the corner, which means couples all around are trying to decide if they want to battle the crowds and grab a reservation at the most romantic restaurant or whip up a fancy dinner at home.


If you are in the "at home" camp, and if your valentine is anything like me, this delightfully decadent mac and cheese is the perfect dish for you both. This is the kind of dinner you make for a very special occasion. It is rich, creamy, sharp, nutty and buttery. It uses 4 perfectly matched cheeses for the ultimate sauce, which coats curly noodles that are cooked to al dente. And let's not forget that breadcrumb topping - a little crunch to compliment all that gooey goodness, trust.


I have come to consider myself somewhat of a macaroni and cheese connoisseur, or maybe I am just obsessed with macaroni and cheese. It's hard to tell the difference. There a few macs out there that will always cheer me up, the ones I turn to when I just need something comforting and delicious. First is my mom's mac and cheese, my all-time favorite recipe of hers. It's the dish I always asked her to cook when I was home during college.  Then there is Ina Garten's Lobster Mac and Cheese. Classy, elegant, a perfect dish for the holidays.


This Four Cheese Baked Mac and Cheese is my newest addition to the list of infamous macs. Whether it's Valentine's Day, a birthday, a holiday or any other reason to celebrate, be sure to add it to your menu. Served alongside roasted vegetables or a crispy salad, you just can't go wrong :-)

Here's what you need for Four Cheese Baked Mac and Cheese* (Print Recipe!)

1 pound short cut pasta, such as cavatappi
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 heaping tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 clove garlic, smashed and removed from skin (do not mince)
4 ounces marscapone cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces extra sharp white cheddar, shredded (see note)
6 ounces fontina cheese, shredded
1 cup italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, for serving
salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

Here's what you do

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for 7 minutes, or until al dente. It is better to undercook the pasta at this stage as it will continue to cook in the oven. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water, then strain the pasta and place in a 9x13 baking dish.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Cook for about a minute, then slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the garlic clove and lower heat to medium-low and cook until it is starting to steam and thicken slightly. Do not boil the milk. Remove the garlic then whisk in the marscapone, cheddar, and fontina cheese. Continue cooking until the sauce covers the back of the spoon. If it gets too thick, add in some of the reserved pasta water. Season with lots of black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until completely combined. Melt the remaining butter then stir in the breadcrumbs (it should look like wet sand). Sprinkle the topping all over the pasta then add the parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are bubbly and the topping golden brown. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then garnish with fresh parsley and serve at once.

Notes: Cheese that you shred yourself will melt down much more smoothly than pre-shredded cheese. When choosing a cheddar, be sure not to use anything that is dry-aged, as this will result in a grittier cheese sauce.


*Gas Stove Girl Original Recipe

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