Monday, January 3, 2011

Grown Up Mac & Cheese

This pasta dish is a real crowd pleaser.  I have made it for large groups, as it is real easy to double and even triple the recipe.  It is not the healthiest meal, but it sure is tasty!

1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp of flour
4 cups of milk at room temperature (any fat content of your choice.  I use non-fat and it works great)
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup grated fontina cheese (i use a blend of fontina, asiago, and parmesan)
1 pound dried rigatoni noodles

Preheat the oven to 425 degree.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter over medium heat.  Once it is melted add in the flour, whisking constantly.  (If you have a flattened whisk, this is a great time to use it.  It helps keep the bottom from burning.  If not, just make sure to really get to the bottom of the pan, so it doesn't burn.)  Carefully pour in the room temp milk and keep on whisking...don't stop! (If you forgot to set the milk out to get it to room temp, you can nuke it for a minute or two before pouring it in.  This is an important step in ensuring a creamy bechamel sauce.)Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.  (To do this, just dip the spoon in the sauce and when you lift it out, wipe the back of it with your finger.  If the line stays and does not drip away, then you are good to go!)  Remove from the heat and stir in nutmeg and 1/2 of the cheese and season with s/p.  Set it aside while you boil the noodles.

Bring a large stock pot full of water to a boil.  Add salt and the rigatoni.  Cook only for about 5-7 minutes.  Do not overcook the noodles, because they will finish cooking in the oven.  Return the pasta back to the pot and pour the sauce over it.  Stir to combine, until all the pasta is covered.

Grease a 9 x 13 dish and pour the pasta and sauce into it.  Cover with the remaining cheese.  Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until its golden brown.

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