Heather's choice was Ina's Grown up Mac and Cheese from the episode Home Comforts. Wow, was this good. I followed the recipe word for word with a few exceptions, I used a sprouted 7-grain bread and celentani pasta. I never have white bread in the house, try to keep the whole grain, healthy stuff around. The bread keeps well in the freezer, so I had it on hand. The nutty flavor of the bread was really nice against the rich creamy cheeses.
I shopped ingredients on a trip to Trader Joe's and celentani was the closest thing to elbow pasta that they had. Whole wheat pasta would have been my choice if I could have found any, but as you can see from the picture, the ridges on the pasta really worked nicely. The sauce had lots of little spaces to cling to. Also, on that trip, I purchased the cheeses (TJ's cheese prices are so reasonable!) . For this mac and cheese I used a Swiss, Kaltbach cave-aged Gruyere, a Wisconsin, white extra sharp cheddar, and crumbled Salem blue cheese. They had a nice, thick, applewood bacon, so I picked that up as well. When I baked it off for the recipe, I added a few extra slices to cook at the same time. We had those in a cobb salad the next night. I really liked the smokey, fruity taste of the bacon with the cheese in the dish. One thing I did not add was more salt. Taste the sauce first, after you have all the ingredients together. I felt it was salty enough.
Notes: Make this when you have a bit of time, you will need it. Grate the cheese in the food processor to save time and wash dishes as you go so you will not be overwhelmed with the pile you have at the end!
Grown Up Mac and Cheese
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
2 cups celentani pasta
1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 slices sprouted 7-grain bread
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into baking dish.
Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.