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Luxurious Four-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese

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Serves eight as a main course.

Adding the cheese in two stages helps to create the best consistency.

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce; more to taste
  • 5 oz. Gruyère, coarsely grated (about 1-3/4 cups lightly packed)
  • 8 oz. blue cheese (I like Maytag Blue), crumbled (about 2 cups)
  • 1 lb. dried penne rigate pasta
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 11 oz. Monterey Jack, cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2-1/2 oz. Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated (scant 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 350°F. Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat to just below a simmer, stirring often to prevent scorching. Remove from the heat and cover to keep hot. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften and becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, whisking frequently, until thickened and smooth. Season the white sauce with 1 tsp. salt, pepper to taste, the nutmeg, and the Tabasco. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the Gruyère and blue cheese.

Luxurious Four-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese Recipe
To make a traditional white sauce to bind macaroni and cheese, whisk hot milk into a cooked paste of butter and flour.

Cook the pasta to al dente, following the package directions. Drain well and return to the pot. Toss the lemon zest and half of the Monterey Jack into the pasta  while it’s still hot; add the cheese sauce and quickly toss to combine. Stir in the parsley and thyme and transfer half of the pasta to a large (3-quart) shallow casserole or lasagna pan. Sprinkle with the remaining Monterey Jack and half the Parmigiano; top with the remaining pasta. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano and the breadcrumbs. Bake until bubbly and golden, 50 to 60 minutes. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per main-course serving; Calories (kcal): 710; Fat (g): 39; Fat Calories (kcal): 350; Saturated Fat (g): 23; Protein (g): 36; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 54; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 1400; Cholesterol (mg): 110; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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