I realize that this post is going to make it look like all do is prepare and eat pasta dishes.
While I’ve made it completely clear that I love pasta…
It’s not entirely true that pasta is all I eat….
Now let me tell you about this dish of macaroni and cheese I’m eating… (smiling…)
This is a really quick and easy mac and cheese, and that’s why I want to share it with you. Today was just one of those days…cold, tiring, and I was feeling a tad cranky after I left work. What better meal to warm someone on a cold day, provide complete comfort; but at the same time take minimal effort, than this macaroni and cheese?
This mac and cheese get’s its cheesiness from Monterey Jack, a slight tang from Romano, it’s bite from Pepper Jack, and a slight stringiness from mozzarella. Believe me, all of these cheeses blend so well together, and it stays perfectly creamy…there is nothing dry about this dish.
The trick to a very creamy, cheese sauce is to make sure that when you add it to your béchamel, make sure that the cheese is grated, and not cubed… and that you don’t keep the melting cheese over the heat. Keep it short and sweet, and both you and the cheese will be happy, and not feeling gritty or cranky at all…trust me.
Change into some comfortable clothes while it’s baking. Spoon it into a small bowl, grab a blanket, sit on the couch and watch TV while you enjoy this hot, cheesy bowl of goodness…it’s the perfect cure for crankiness…
Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
This recipe is perfectly small enough to be a side dish, or a main course for two to three people. Use your favorite pasta shape; two cups uncooked will make four cups cooked. For this recipe, I used 1 cup of uncooked pasta nuggets, and 1 cup of uncooked Gemelli.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Butter a 9 x 9 baking dish
Prepare 2 uncooked cups of your favorite pasta according to the directions on the box. Cook until al-dente. Drain, and set aside.
Fry 4 slices bacon until crispy. Place on paper towel lined plate. Crumble, and set aside.
The Cheese Sauce
4 tbsp butter
3 ½ tbsp flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 cup heavy cream, warmed
½ tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
½ cup Pepper Jack cheese, grated
½ cup Romano cheese, grated
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated and divided
In a large frying pan, prepare the roux by melting the butter over medium to low heat. Add the flour and stir until completely blended and smooth. Add the milk , heavy cream, salt, white pepper, and cayenne, and whisk until well blended and smooth. Continue to cook for about five minutes, or until it starts to thicken (your béchamel).
Remove from heat, and add the Monterey jack, pepper jack, Romano, and ½ cup of the mozzarella to the béchamel, little bits at a time, stirring until the cheese is well blended, and melted.
Add the four cups of cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish, and top with remaining ½ cup of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Bake for ½ hour until bubbly and golden brown.