Who doesn’t like Mac n Cheese! This recipe is a slightly modified Cook’s Illustrated version. This particular mac n cheese has the distinct blue cheese flavor, so if you aren’t into blue, you may want to try something more traditional.
The history and origin of macaroni and cheese is convoluted, as are many foods we eat today. From the varied resources I looked into, I suppose it would be safe to say the the dish was popularized in the U.S. by Thomas Jefferson during his presidency. Jefferson had a keen interest in foods and the gadgets that helped make them, such as a pasta machine. Jefferson came back from a trip to Italy with a pasta machine, which he then improved upon leading to plenty of mac n cheese making in his household. Personally, I’m very glad he popularized this dish verses something like Gypsy moth soup…
4 slices white or ‘light’ wheat sandwich bread, torn in to small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
PASTA AND CHEESE:
1 pound fusilli pasta
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup grated Fontina or mixed bag Italian cheeses
4 ounces of blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 4.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, chopped and drained
4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1. FOR THE TOPPING: In a food processor, pulse the bread slices and place in a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan, salt and pepper.
2. FOR THE PASTA: Preheat oven to 500 degrees with the rack in the middle (more nearer the top) of the oven.
3. In a pot add enough water to cook the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt. At a boil add pasta and stir to separate. In a large bowl, mix all the remaining cheeses and chopped prosciutto.
4. While pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook gently to remove floury taste, about 1 minute. Do not let flour brown. Slowly add heavy cream, fully incorporating it as you pour. Increase heat slightly to bring the cream mixture to a very gentle simmer. Gently add tomatoes and remove from heat.
5. Once pasta is al dente, drain quickly, then pour noodles into the cheese bowl. Immediately add the cream mixture over the top of the noodles and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Let rest for 3 minutes. A good time to rinse out sticky cheesy bowls, etc. Remove foil and stir making sure the cheeses and noodels are fully incorporated. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top and pop it into the oven for about 7 minutes, making sure the topping is browned. Serve on warmed plates.