I was excited to try this recipe. It reminded me a lot of my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe (from the Stonewall Kitchen Favorites) cookbook. However, this recipe disappointed me just a little bit. It was good, but just not as great as the Stonewall Kitchen recipe, which is a little cheesier and more flavorful. For some reason, my final product seemed to need a little bit more cheese and seasoning. I also like the thyme in the Stonewall Kitchen recipe better than the basil in this one (which I'm actually surprised about, because I love basil). Overall, I liked this recipe - but I think when I feel like splurging on mac & cheese, I'll stick with the Stonewall Kitchen version.
Ina Garten's Grown Up Mac & Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 slices white sandwich bread,
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook macaroni in salted water, according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, Fontina, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
- Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten, via the Food Network
Note: The original recipe says this serves two . . . those "two" would have to be incredibly hungry! I filled up the small corningware dish above, the next larger size corningware dish, and two individual-sized aluminum pie pans (the latter three I froze for later). I initially thought about halving the recipe, but decided not to . . . and I'm glad I didn't, because I did get many, many dishes dirty in the process of making this - so I'm glad we'll get more than one meal out of it!
P.S. Today is Patriot Day, so please take time to think about the families who lost loved ones on 9/11, as well as the troops fighting for our freedom. Little things we take for granted, like home cooked meals, are just one tiny part of the huge sacrifice soldiers make while protecting our nation.