macaroni & cheese, cream-based

The most elegant and rich of the macaroni & cheese recipes has a cream-based sauce. It’s quick to prepare, and of SO delicious! As with any of the cheese sauces, take special care not to overheat the sauce, to prevent clumping and curdling. 

Don’t forget that you can add flavor and color to make the meal more appetizing with add-on ingredients such as red bell peppers, ham, broccoli, bacon, green onions and a wide variety of others that you may have available in your refrigerator.

Macaroni with Four Cheeses

Say CHEESE! What kind of cheese is best? When my cheese drawer has a bunch of bits and small chunks of cheese, I know it's time to get cooking! The recipes call for cheddar, Gruyere or Swiss, Romano, but I think any blend of very sharp cheese and creamy cheese is a good match. Think gorgonzola, Parmesan, Romano, extra-sharp cheddar, aged gouda, paired with Swiss, fontina, gruyere, cream cheese, mozzarella. Yes, clean out the cheese drawer!

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter divided, plus a little for the baking dish
  • 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika divided
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese grated
  • 4 ounces Fontina or Swiss cheese grated
  • 4 ounces Gorgonzola crumbled
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 pound macaroni

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish or 8 1-cup ramekin. Place on parchment lined baking sheet; set aside.

For the breadcrumbs:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan parsley, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon paprika; toss with melted butter. Set aside.

For the sauce:

  1. Melt butter in skillet. Add the cream and heat through. Add the cheeses and stir over low heat. Keep warm.

For the pasta:

  1. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add about 2 tablespoons salt, then add the pasta and stir immediately. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain.

Finishing:

  1. Add hot macaroni to the cheese sauce in the skillet, stirring to coat all of the macaroni with sauce. Let mixture stand 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, and adding water from the pasta pot to control consistency of the sauce. Place mixture in greased baking dish or ramekins. Sprinkle with half the breadcrumb mixture, then remaining cheese, then remaining breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Allow mixture to stand 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Makes 8 servings.


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