Recipe by SarasotaCook
My favorite! I never make any other mac and cheese recipe. Now, I know a lot of people love Velveeta for their mac and cheese, which is fine, no offense Velveeta fans. But for me, I wanted something "a bit more upscale" with "a bit more flavor." This was my solution and I get requests for the recipe all the time. I do change it up now and then. I replace the gruyere with smoky gouda which is great along with some smoked cooked diced bacon. I have also added a little bleu cheese which was good. But, the overall recipe and amounts never change. Baked with a crunchy cracker crumb topping makes this perfect. Now you can cut this in half, but I always make a huge pan and then freeze some for me during the week or for another quick meal. It never lasts very long.
- 1 lb cavatappi pasta (you can also use a small ridged elbow macaroni or a mini penne)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 cups half-and-half (you could also use milk)
- 6 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 4 ounces gruyere, grated (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup, 1/2 for the sauce, 1/2 cup for the topping)
- 1 large shallot, grated
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can use a bit more if you like)
- 2⁄3 cup Ritz cracker (fine chopped)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
- 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese, from above
Directions See How It's Made
- Cheese Sauce -- Also known as a bechemel sauce - a standard white sauce. It in medium size pot, add the butter and melt on medium heat. Stir in the flour and whisk in and cook just to combine and get rid of the flour taste. Just a minutes is all you need. Slowly whisk in the milk or half and half and the heavy cream. Continue to cook on medium until the sauce thickens. Add in the grated shallot, mustard, worcestershire, cayenne (to taste), and pepper. Hold off on the salt until you add all the cheeses. Mix well and then add in the cheese and just simmer on low, until everything is melted and creamy. Check for seasoning one last time.
- Pasta -- As the cheese sauce is melting, cook your pasta according to directions. I don't let it get too soft, just a couple minutes shy because it will continue to cook in the oven.
- Topping -- In a small baggie (ziplock bag), add your crackers, 1/2 cup parmesan and paprika and just "crunch up." You can use your hand, mallet, rolling pin, anything you have. Then I actually just add the butter right in the baggie (ziplock bag) and toss in the microwave for 10 seconds or less. The butter melts, no mess and just toss out the bag. You can also do this in a measuring cup or small bowl. Whichever works easiest for you.
- Casserole -- Well your pasta should be done, so drain and return to the pot but off the heat. Add your creamy cheese sauce to the pasta and toss well.
- Make sure to grease your casserole dish well, I like to use butter, but a non stick spray works just as well. Pour in the pasta and top with the bread crumbs.
- Bake -- 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes uncovered until bubbly. Depending on your oven and pan it can take up to 40-45 minutes. I use a 13x9 pan, but just keep an eye on it. When the topping is golden brown and bubbly, it is done. Remember, everything is already cooked. ENJOY!
- Serve with anything or nothing. I can make a dinner just out of mac and cheese and a small salad. Nothing better to me.