Something about the snow makes me crave this dish every time. Its heady aroma hits my senses first, as it brews its goodness in the oven. Peering into the grainy window of the loving embrace of my oven, I can see it bubbling over with excitement, all creamy and silky smooth. The right type of pasta is essential-Use NOTHING but Cavatappi, their spiral corridors were built just to hold the creamy glaze of a multitude of liquid gold cheeses. And regarding those cheeses? Cheddar and Gruyere is de rigueur, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Any good, flavorful cheese will do, the more variety the better the dish. The best part? Use the ends of cheeses you already have. Its a green dish 🙂
And what makes this so grown up? Basil, Nutmeg, Bacon and the sharp kick of more pungent cheeses.
Blue Box Mac and Cheese? Pshaw, pleeeeaaaase people. Thats for late night college food frenzies, when sense are dulled by too much……..studying. lol. This grown up mac and cheese meal will be at the top of your emotional eating hit list, I guarantee it.
Bring it on Macaroni and Cheese
Serves four. Or one if under stress.
- 1 (8 ounce) package Cavatappi
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tblspn fresh, chopped basil leaves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups shredded cheese, good quality (make it a blend of Cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, Parmesan, even Blue would be amazing)
- 4 oz Thick sliced bacon, crisped
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, buttered
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. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle. Leave oven heating at 400.
Cook and drain Cavatappi just 3 minutes short of cooking time directions on packages. A more al dente pasta will absorb some of the cheese during bake time.
In a large sauce pan, melt butter. While butter melts, warm milk and cream, but don’t boil (this can be done in a microwave as well). Set aside.
Once butter has melted, whisk in flour. Stir constantly over low heat for two minutes. While stirring, slowly add warmed milk and cream, whisking as you pour. continue to add until all liquid is incorporated, then cook over low heat for an additional two to three minutes, stirring as sauce thickens. Add nutmeg, basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.
To the liquid, add cheese in small handfuls. Simmer until thickened and cheese is melted, about five minutes.
Fold in cooked pasta and crisped bacon. Blend well.
Pour into greased baking dish. Top with buttered breadcrumbs. Place in oven and bake uncovered for 25 to 35 minutes, until the cheeses bubbles happily and the breadcrumbs are toasty and warm.