Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Extreme Macaroni and Cheese

by Ann
Mac 'n cheese before baking.  I used rigatoni noodles because I could now find large elbows.
Macaroni and Cheese is trendy in great restaurants, and for good reason -- who doesn't like a good mac 'n cheese? When Sheila, Heather and I were in Vegas last January for the BlogWorld Expo, we ordered an appetizer of it, and then decided it was so good we ordered more for dinner at the Todd English P.U.B. (did everyone but me know that Pub stood for Public Urban Bar, or is that just the Todd English spin on the word?).  

One of the good news/bad news results of blogging is that I have started reading and enjoying many food blogs.  The good news is that there are so many amazing food bloggers out there from which I have gotten inspiration and ideas; the bad news is that I feel like a rookie who has a l-o-n-g way to go to try to compete.  One of my favorites is Kayotic Kitchen, written by a talented woman in the Netherlands, and is the inspiration behind this recipe.  Oops...I'm digressing from the mac 'n cheese topic, so back to it.

I made this recipe as a side for our Mother's Day celebration, and it was a big hit.  I think the key to it's "wonderfulness" is roasted garlic and Gruyere cheese.  The cheese is pricey, coming from Gruyere, Switzerland. If you've never tried it, you should; it is much better that run of the mill Swiss, but I imagine the end product would be good if you didn't want to pop for the Gruyere (the version I purchased was $16.99 per pound -- ouch!).  As for the roasted garlic -- I've decided to do next Tuesday's post all about roasting garlic and making compound butter.  If you have to make this recipe before next Tuesday, and don't know how to roast garlic, Google it -- there are many links to step-by-step instructions.
Can we all agree than anything is better with bacon in it?  Cook up plenty for snacking -- cooking is hard work!
Grate up the cheeses - Rough grate is okay for the cheddar and Gruyere, but finely grate the Parmesan
Roughly chop the shallots
Remove the roasted garlic cloves from their papery casings and mash with a fork.
(And yes, you do use the entire head of garlic!)
And now the sauce - add butter to the shallots cooking in reserved bacon fat.  No calories here!
Add flour and mustard powder to make a roux.  Cook for a couple of minutes until smooth and golden brown.

Gradually add milk - I used whole milk.  This would not be the time to start worrying  about fat grams.
At this point stir in the roasted garlic, freshly grated nutmeg and pepper.  May want to hold off on adding the salt until you've tasted it with the cheese.
Turn the heat off and stir in the cheese until it melts. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. 
Mix the topping ingredients.
Sprinkle topping on the mac and cheese.  Drizzle with melted butter.
Good thing I thought to take a picture before it was all gone!

Extreme Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound macaroni, a large variety
½ c roughly chopped shallot
1 T reserved bacon fat
6 T butter
1 bulb roasted garlic
½ c flour
½ t dry mustard
½ t freshly grated nutmeg
1 t salt
6 oz Gruyere (Swiss) cheese, grated
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 2/3 c milk
1 c panko bread crumbs
1/3 c diced bacon, cooked crispy (about 6 oz)
1 c Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 t dried parsley flakes
2 T melted butter
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(Eventually the oven will need to be preheated to 400° to bake the mac and cheese, but if your garlic is not already roasted, you need to have it on that temp anyway.)
  • Roast garlic bulb in 400° oven for 1 hour.  Remove cloves from casing and mash with a fork.  Set aside for later use. 
  • Grate all cheeses; set aside.
  • Cook the bacon until crisp, reserving 1 T fat.
  • While bacon is cooking, roughly chop enough shallots to fill ½ cup measure.
  • Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Do not overcook.  Pasta will continue to cook in the baking process.
  • While macaroni is cooking, sauté shallots in reserved bacon fat for a minute or two.  Add the butter to the pan to melt and continue to cook the shallots.  Add the flour and dry mustard to make a roux.  Stir until the rawness of the flour is gone and the mixture becomes golden brown in color (2-4 minutes).
  • Gradually add milk until all is incorporated, whisking throughout the process to be sure to avoid lumps.  Once the sauce is velvety-smooth add the garlic paste, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  • Turn off the heat. Add Gruyere and cheddar cheeses; stir until smooth.
  • Drain pasta well.  Put macaroni back into to pasta-cooking pot and then add the cheese sauce.  Stir until pasta is evenly coated with amazingly smooth and delicious sauce. Pour into 9 x 13” baking dish.
  • Combine grated all topping ingredients except melted butter in small bowl.  Sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.  Drizzle melted butter over the top.  Cover with foil.  Bake covered for 15 minutes. 
  • Remove the aluminum foil and put back into the oven until edges are bubbling and topping browns (another 15 minutes or so).


Since this is a rather lengthy recipe I will attach it as a downloadable document even though I heard back from one reader that everyone can't open these like I was counting on having happen. (Back to my note about being an rookie at the blogging process...)

If you want a printable copy of the recipe, click here.  
My fingers are crossed that it works on your computer!


  1. Oh my, I love this recipe! I am definitely trying this. Thanks for sharing!

  2. It is amazing! The next time I make it I plan to add something extra like green chilies or some sort of meat to see if I like it better as is or jazzed up!