I admit I’m a total carnivore. Sometimes people suggest I become a vegetarian and I tell them I’m already a vegetarian once removed; I eat animals that eat a vegetarian diet. Still, every once in a while I have a craving for good old macaroni & cheese. But I don’t always make it with cheddar cheese. You know…the “normal” way. Tonight it’s Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses!
There’s nothing wrong with macaroni and cheese with cheddar. I love the stuff. But lately I’ve been making a lot of dinners that include cheddar cheese and I wanted something different. I picked up a 5 lb. bag of Galbani Mozzarella, Provolone, and mild White Cheddar a few days ago so I decided to use that as the start of my mac and cheese.
First I made the béchamel sauce. I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in a heavy, medium size saucepan over a low heat. I added the flour and cooked it, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. I increased the heat to medium and slowly whisked in half-and-half and milk.
I cooked the half-and-half mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring it frequently, until it was slightly thickened. Then I added a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder and stirred it in.
The béchamel was covered and I set it aside. It was time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Next I filled a large pot with water and salted it to taste. I put it on the stove on a high heat and when it was boiling rapidly I added 1 pound of elbow macaroni. After the water had returned to a boil I reduced the heat so the macaroni was at a low boil. I cooked it 2 minutes less than the package directions (for only 5 minutes) because I wanted the macaroni very al dente. It finishes cooking in the oven and I hate, hate, hate mushy pasta!
While the macaroni was boiling I buttered a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
When the macaroni was done I drained it, returned it to the cooking pot and added 2 tablespoons of butter. I stirred it so the butter would melt and to coat the macaroni. I think we should all say a prayer of thanks for butter.
Then I poured about 1/2 the macaroni into the casserole dish. I topped it with the Galbani cheese blend and the Parmigiano cheese.
I spread the rest of the macaroni over the cheese layer and topped it with the remaining cheese blend but not the rest of the parmigiana.
I mixed the rest of the parmigiana with the breadcrumbs and spread that mixture over the macaroni and cheese. We like a lot of that crispy topping on top of lots of gooey cheese!
The macaroni and cheese went into the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. You’ll want the breadcrumbs golden brown.
I let the dish stand for a few minutes before serving.
Oh, the joy of stringy cheese and crispy breadcrumbs surrounding that flavorful béchamel and perfectly cooked macaroni! I think I heard angels singing. And I didn’t even care that there was no meat!
Macaroni & Cheese with 4 Cheeses
6 tablespoons of butter + more to butter casserole dish
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt, plus salt for pasta water
1 cup Parmigiano cheese, divided (the stuff in the shaker bottle works just fine but you can use shredded, too)
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 ounces grated Cheddar cheese
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter over a low heat in a heavy saucepan.
Add the flour and stir to combine.
While stirring constantly, cook the mixture for 2 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the half-and-half and milk.
Cook for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently until mixture is slightly thickened.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the garlic powder and stir to combine.
Cover the béchamel sauce and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Fill a large pot with water and add salt.
When water is boiling, add the macaroni noodles and return to a low boil.
Cook for 5 minutes (until very al dente).
Drain and return to cooking pot.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter and stir to melt and combine.
Pour 1/2 of the macaroni into a buttered 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.
Top with 2 cups of the Galbani cheese blend and 1 cup of the Parmigiano cheese.
Spread the remaining macaroni over the cheese and top this layer with the remaining cheese blend.
Mix the remaining 1 cup of Parmigiano with the bread crumbs and spread over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until top is golden brown and cheese is bubbly.
Let stand for a few minutes after removing from oven.