by Hunter Fike
In honor of what could be the single greatest American sporting event, my family came together for a pot luck, all-American feast. Cornbread, Beef Chili, Potato Skins, Sweet Potato Chips and Mac and Cheese…starchy, yes, but quality comfort food for this time of year. And if there is an occasion to splurge on calories, its Super Bowl. We finished the evening with my mother’s Angel Food Cake, which may or may not be strictly American, but was nonetheless worth the exception if it isn’t.
Anyway, the purpose of this post is to pass on the recipe for the Mac and Cheese, which was my greatest to date. Here are the ingredients you will need:
1 bag Bartolini Rocchetti Pasta (Bartolini maintains a firmer texture, and this cut traps a lot of the cheese inside.)
6oz of Nodines Bayou-Smoked Bacon, or 6oz Pancetta, diced into centimeter-width strips
4tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
5 1/2 cups Whole Milk, warmed on the stove before use
1lb Ascutney Mountain Cheese, Pleasant Ridge Reserve or other Gruyere-style cheese, grated
1/2lb 3-Year New York Cheddar, grated
1/4lb Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cook the pasta until al dente.
3. As you wait for the water to boil and pasta to cook, put the bacon or pancetta in a pan over low heat and cook for approximately 15 minutes. You are looking for browning but not a crisp texture.
4. Put the cooked pasta and the bacon into a large bowl, one big enough that the pasta only fills the bowl half way.
5. Add the butter to the rendered bacon fat and melt over medium heat.
6. After the foam subsides, add the flour, a quarter cup at a time. and whisk into a roux. After this step, it should look like a small amount of Cream of Wheat in your pan.
7. Begin adding the milk, a half cup at a time, being sure not to add the next half cup until the previous is fully incorporated. When this is completed, it should appear as Alfredo sauce.
8. Add the grated Cheddar and your choice of Gruyere a handful at a time. Whisk aggressively to avoid clumps.
9. After the cheese is fully incorporated, taste, and add salt and pepper as desired.
10. Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta and bacon bowl, mix thoroughly, and pour into a buttered, oven-proof platter, preferably something wide and narrow.
11. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano, and put under the broiler for around 10 minutes more. Be sure to keep an eye on it so that the desirable browning does not become embarrassing char.
Here is what mine looked like:
If all goes well, here is what it will look like five minutes later:
Good luck, and please comment. Let us know if it worked for you, and any successful alterations you made.