Cut the Cheese

Cut the Cheese

We eat a lot of cheese in my house, and every once and a while, it’s time to clean out the fridge. What do I make with all the random hunks of cheese in my fridge? Macaroni & Cheese!!! But, no fear, this isn’t the mac-n-cheese you remember. Its made with great, flavorful cheeses and topped with a crunchy panko crust. It was definitely the most fattening thing I’ve made in quite a while, but dangit, it was good! The recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s on the Food Network.

I served it as a main course with a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
3/4 pound Gemelli pasta (or elbows)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces (by weight) sharp cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf. Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

3. To make the topping, melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Makes 6-7 Servings

Note: I used 5 different cheeses, Gruyere, smoked mozarella, parmesan, Irish Dubliner, and some stinky (but very yummy) French cheese that I forgot the name of. Do not use too much smoked cheese, or it will overpower the other cheeses.