I know we’re all kind of sick of seeing macaroni and cheese on menus at five-star restaurants. Oh who am I kidding, I’m not eating in any five-star restaurants. But, I’ve heard that those people that eat at five-star restaurants are sick of seeing macaroni and cheese on menus. (For all you five-star restaurant owners following our blog, I’m sorry to break that news to you.) But, if you were going to serve macaroni and cheese at a five-star restaurant, this would be the one. Catherine and I made this while she was visiting and it went quickly. My kids, in particular, are particular about macaroni and cheese and I’m embarrassed to tell you that the only kind they have liked, up until a few days ago, was Kraft. (Kraft, not “Craft”. ”Craft” is a three-star restaurant that incidentally, doesn’t serve macaroni and cheese.) I’ve made several homemade versions and they’ve all gotten a “meh” response. I HATE that response.
This was a combination of recipes: Ina Garten’s, the Food Network Kitchen’s and our own spin based on what cheese we had on hand. So good! The secret is the blue cheese. In fact, we re-named this recipe “Blue Cheese and Macaroni” so that you wouldn’t feel like you could substitute any other kind of cheese. You can’t, so don’t. I don’t mean to sound bossy, but I am, so that’s how I sound.
Blue Cheese and Macaroni serves 6
1 lb of macaroni
1/4 pound bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
5 tablespoons butter, plus more to butter baking dish
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
8 oz. cup grated Gruyere
2 cups grated sharp cheddar
3/4 cup grated Grana Padano
1/4 cup panko
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Cook macaroni just short of the al dente stage. Drain.
In a large dutch oven or other heavy pot, sauté the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Sauté the onion in the bacon drippings until soft. Add 5 tablespoons butter to the onion mixture and melt the butter stirring with a wooden spoon.
Using a whisk, add the flour, and stir constantly until well mixed with the fat making a roux. Whisk in the mustard. Gradually add the milk and cream whisking constantly.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, and salt. Let come to a simmer and stir frequently for 15 minutes.
Working quickly, mix in the Gruyère, blue cheese , cheddar, 1/2 cup Grana Padano, and the reserved bacon. Continue to stir until all cheese is melted.
Add the cooked noodles to the cheese mixture to coat. Add the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese and panko together and sprinkle on top of the noodles. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven when done and rest for 5 minutes.