If you heard a large clanging noise this past Sunday night, it was probably the sound of my arteries slamming shut. I took a page from Maggie's book and decided to make mac and cheese as a post-Valentine's Day-Valentine meal; I knew full well that it was going to be a cholesterol nightmare, but I threw caution to the wind and went for it anyway. If you are looking for a lighter or lower fat mac and cheese, this is not the recipe for you. Consider yourself warned.
So! What made this macaroni so crazy? Well, let's start with a solid pound of grated cheese (four kinds). And then move on to the quarter pound of prosciutto. And from there, to the caramelized shallots and two heads of roasted garlic.
Just devising this recipe made me drool like some prehistoric beast; I certainly growled like one once or twice as I assembled it--I lost some quality acreage on my knuckles while grating the cheese. I based the recipe on one that I found in Bon Appetit last month; I was intrigued by their tip to use eggs instead of bechamel for the custard. Though it took some care to achieve (you have to be very careful when mixing the eggs and the cheese sauce if you want to avoid scrambled eggs), it was worth it--the casserole was cheesy, gooey, creamy deliciousness from top to tail, without the trauma of whisking hot milk into flour (though the addition of some tangy buttermilk to the cheesy custard certainly didn't hurt the cause, either).
The topping might have been my favorite part, though--breadcrumbs with parmesan, garlic, and a hint of nutmeg, just to keep things interesting. It's a flavor that most will find hard to place, but it adds a lovely complexity.
Basically, this is a panful of cardiac arrest--and worth every single bite. Make it for someone you love (especially if that someone is yourself) today.
Death mac: Four cheese mac and cheese
1/4 stick butter
6-8 medium sized shallots, sliced thinly
1/4c all purpose flour
1 1/2 c buttermilk
2 c milk
1 lb shredded cheese (a good mix: parmesan, gruyere, manchego, cheddar)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
6 oz pancetta or prosciutto, diced
2 large eggs
2 heads roasted garlic, pureed
1 lb shell pasta (I used whole wheat in an attempt to be...um. Healthy. Yeah.)
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and saute until caramelized.
- Add prosciutto/pancetta; saute for 3-4 minutes more
- Add flour, cook for 2 more minutes
- Add milk; bring to a simmer
- Add cheese, mustard, and garlic puree. Continue to simmer until cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt
- Whisk eggs into medium bowl; gradually whisk in 1 c cheese sauce. GRADUALLY is key--you don't want the eggs to curdle
- Add egg mixture back into cheese sauce
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 and cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Prepare topping: breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion and garlic powders, salt.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce; turn out into buttered casserole dish.
- Top with breadcrumb topping.
- Bake 25 min or so, until everything is bubbly and brown and irresistible.