For a while I thought my oldest daughter, Isabella, would never eat anything but mac and cheese. She’s now 16 years old and still loves mac and cheese — and frankly, so do I. So I figured I needed to step it up and make gourmet mac and cheese. No nuclear orange in this house. Even though this tastes super gourmet, it is really easy to make. It’ll work for a family dinner or a high end dinner with friends as well. There’s nothing better than upscale comfort food.
Upscale Easy Mac and Cheese
4 pieces thick-sliced bacon
2 cups medium shell pasta
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
4 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
3 oz extra-sharp or sharp cheddar, grated
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup panco bread crumbs
2 Tbs freshly minced basil leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Microwave the bacon until crisp. Move to a paper towel and crumble when cool.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season well with salt. Add a little bit of cooking oil if desired. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, generally 6 to 8 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan. Don’t let it boil. 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 2 more minutes until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add all of the cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and bacon to the pot and stir well. Pour into a casserole dish.
5. Mix diced basil leaves with bread crumbs. Toss over the top of the casserole. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and pasta is browned on top.