Filed under: babble, Cooking/Food | Tags: Best Mac 'n' Cheese recipe, comfort food, mac n cheese, panko
My roommate and I are moving out of our apartment this week. Renae is my third yet longest roommate at this apartment of three years. Even though it isn’t the fanciest place with the best view, it’s comfortable and homey. I will miss it. I will miss the loud, incessant noise from the freeway below, I will miss the tiny kitchen that we often cooked in. I will miss the lights over the bathroom sink that would not turn on right away when the switch is turned. I will my noisy bedroom in which I have to wear earplugs to sleep. It wasn’t the best place, but I have made it my place for the past three years.
Renae and I made our favorite dish for the third time, for the last time for a while–Mac n Cheese. We are possibly the most compatible mac-n-cheese-buddies, if there is such a connection. Our previous makings of the comfort dish included, in various combinations, truffles brought back from Italy, truffle oil bought from the store around the corner, goat cheese, aged cheddar, gruyere, mozzarella, whole milk, half n half, butter, pretend butter. This time, after surveying numerous recipes, we believe we have found the BEST version of the classic comfort food. And the ingredient list once again confirms that less is more.
We sat in the furniture-less living room savoring our best work, reminiscing past mac ‘n’ cheeses, envisioning future ones. Empty apartment makes for a suitable space for the happy food dance (perhaps in another post). Ahh, this last supper together will be one highlighted in my memory book. And the recipe will surely be starred in my recipe book.
Adapted (and slightly lightened) from
Emeril’s BEST Mac ‘n’ Cheese Ever Challenge Winner–Laura Macek (Click here for original recipe)
- 1 head of garlic, roasted
- 1 tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil (see directions)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
- 5 thinly sliced prosciutto
- 1 ½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 ounces each grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Pecorino Romano
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup minced shallots
- 8 small caps of white mushroom or cremini, finely chopped
- ½ cup flour
- 1 quart whole milk
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To roast garlic: Slice ½ inch off the top of the entire head of garlic. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic head tightly in a square of heavy foil and roast until tender — about 45 minutes. Remove garlic pulp by squeezing garlic head. Smash cloves with a fork to form a paste.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
4. In a nonstick pan on medium heat, drizzle 1 tsp olive oil and fry prosciutto until brown but not burnt. It will not be crispy until taken out of pan. Drain on paper towels. Reserve oil in pan. Crumble prosciutto when cool.
5. To make topping: Combine panko, crumbled prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino cheese, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Set aside.
6. Preheat oven to 375°.
7. Sauté shallots and mushrooms over low heat in reserved prosciutto fat/oil for one minute. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and continue to sauté shallots and mushrooms until brown. Set aside.
8. In a heavy pot, make roux by first melting 2 tbsp butter into 2 tbsp olive oil over medium low heat. Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add milk and roasted garlic paste.
9. Cook until lumps from roux are dissolved and sauce is thickened (coats the back of a spoon). Remove sauce from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, mushroom mixture, Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Keep mixture slightly under salted as topping is salty.
10. Stir in cooked pasta. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle topping to cover entire top. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes until sauce is bubbly. Remove foil and broil until topping is browned, watching it carefully. Enjoy!