Grown Up Mac and Cheese

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been craving macaroni and cheese all week. Partly because it’s one of the most comforting foods around, but also because I had some cheese in the cheese drawer that really needed to be used ASAP. I ended up using a combination of gruyere, sharp cheddar, and Stilton (the only veined cheese I had in the house), and it tastes for all the world like the frozen stuff at Trader Joe’s (this is a good thing!). I’m still looking for the “perfect” mac and cheese, but this one is darn close. I left out the bacon.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

Grown Up Mac and Cheese
recipe courtesy Ina Garten

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

9 thoughts on “Grown Up Mac and Cheese

  1. Reeni

    I’ve been craving mac ‘n’ cheese all week, it must be the colder weather. This sounds fantastic, love your combination of cheeses, yum!

  2. LisaRenee

    I live in a house full of mac and cheese addicts, something different that I’ve done that adds a different “crunch” to the top as opposed to bread crumbs is hashbrowns. If you happen to have leftovers that are already slightly browned it works best but it really gives an extra additional flavor boost, especially if you have tossed in a few onions when you made the original hashbrowns.

    If you really want to make it even cheesier, a dusting of the sharp cheddar over the top of the hashbrowns makes the cheese lovers in this house satisfied.

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  4. Louise

    I too have had a craving for Mac N’ cheese. I don’t know why. Thank goodness I resisted the urge to buy it in the box (sometimes craves just take hold and don’t let go no matter what!) This recipe sounds scrumptious. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Rosie

    It must be something in the air – I was commanded to make make mac and cheese last Friday. “The baked kind!!” I used sharp cheddar and Parmesan in mine – I’ll have to try a little blue cheese next time. Your’s looks so yummy!

  6. Jule

    I just made another Mac ‘n Cheese recipe from Ina Garten a couple weeks ago. Very similar to this recipe, but just uses Gruyere and Cheddar, and is topped with sliced tomatoes (which I omitted) and the same kind of bread crumbs that were in this recipe. It was amazing. Also, I froze the lefetovers in my trusty 2 cup containers from Wasserstrom, and they reheated very well.

  7. Penny Wolf

    I just found your blog recently and I LOVE it! I am enjoying the local reviews as I live in Hebron.
    Mac and cheese…. have you tried Patti LaBelle's? The perfect dish to me has to have some Velveeta and hers does. I actually like it before final baking because the baking dries it out a little. I hope you try it and like it.

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