Grown Up Macaroni & Cheese

Would you believe I am a virgin?
Don't believe it.

Well I am a macaroni and cheese virgin!!!! I have never made it before in my life!!!
It's one of those things that I am afraid to have in the house for fear of devouring the entire casserole. I love it.

It snowed this weekend in New Jersey and besides shoveling snow in my apron and drinking wine, I decided to make mac and cheese after reading The Constables' Larder blog and saw his version. Giff's recipe looked so good and I was so in the mood.

After 2 glasses of wine, I started grating my knuckles.
I mean grating the cheese on a box grater!
(Hey, a little blood in the mix never hurt anyone!).

Over the years I have collected so many nice looking mac & cheese recipes but never actually made one! My SIL Linda loves Martha Stewart's recipe. She swears by it. Next time.

Tonight, I used Giff's recipe as a guide. I changed the cheese from cheddar to a mixture of half cheddar and half Comte (Gruyere).
I also used half and half (what the hell, go for it!!) because I did not have enough whole milk in the house and I substituted panko breadcrumbs for the breadcrumb mixture.

This was definitely an adult version. You really taste the lovely whole grain mustard and a bit of white wine. The fresh rosemary & thyme also dressed this version up a lot. The beautiful crust was my favorite part of the dish (as it always was with the Swanson frozen mac n cheese dinners of my childhood!).

I drizzled some truffle oil on top of the finished product and it was excellent & very adult!

So, I have now been inducted into the mac and cheese club.
Well it's about time!

Constables' Larder's Macaroni & Cheese: (changed a bit by me).

1 lb tube shaped pasta such as rigatoni or penne rigate (I used shells)
salt & pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp flour
3 1/2 cups milk (I used half & half mixed w/ milk)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (I used whole grain)
1 lb aged cheddar cheese grated on large holes of a box grater (I used Comte & Cheddar)

1/2 cup coarse bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs)

1. preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 7 minutes -- you do not want the pasta to be fully cooked. Drain, then rinse under cold running water in a colander.

2. melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat (Giff likes to use a cast iron pan so he only has one pot to wash). Add onions, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and cook until onions are soft, 8-10 minutes. If you do not have fresh herbs, use a pinch of dried thyme. Add wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove and discard the sprigs of herbs (if you used dried herbs, just leave in the mix). Whisk in flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk then mustard. Reduce heat to keep the sauce at a gentle simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy. Remove pan from heat and stir in most of the cheese, leaving about 1/2 to 1 cup of cheese for the top. Stir in the cheese a handful at a time, stirring until completely melted after each addition. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I just mixed all the cheese together, did not bother w/ a top layer of cheese).

3. fold pasta into sauce and stir until well coated. If your pan is not oven-proof, transfer everything to a buttered baking dish. Scatter the remaining cheese on top, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake until crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Drizzle with a little truffle oil to make it extra rich and special! Stylin'!


Peter M said…
I don't know if I should laugh or cry at the virgin reference....LOL wins!

Better late than never...Mac n Cheese will solve world peace - you'll see.
kat said…
So good so good...not to brag or anything but you have to try my version with caramelized onions, gruyere & cherry tomatoes. Its one of the dishes I'm proudest of.
Anonymous said…
mama mia,

talk about a "sinful" recipe..
sounds decadent but DELISH!!!!!

Maria said…
Oh you crack me up!! Glad you finally tried mac and cheese! Looks like it was a success!
LaDue & Crew said…
Love the boots paired with the apron. Yup, true leaders make their own fashion statements, lol. This looks delicious- my fav is the crunchy topping too!
Bob said…
Man, that looks so friggin good. I never make mac and cheese, my girlfriend won't eat it. So if I make it I'm making it just for myself and I don't need the extra weight. Heh.
Mila said…
I looove Mac N Cheese and am terrified to make it at home in fear of devouring it all! This looks yummy!
StaceyEsq said…
Love your boots!

I will definitely try this recipe and can't wait to use my Panko breadcrumbs (which I've only used before for dishes like Asian meatloaf with hoisin sauce). Sad thing is, I know my kids won't touch it since it's not processed Kraft stuff. They won't even eat the Stouffer's frozen mac-n-cheese (which is a step up from Kraft's, if you ask me)! Remember Howard Johnson's mac-n-cheese?! That was yummy stuff, but I think all HoJo's are out of business now.
Pam said…
I was just thinking to myself that a drizzle of your new truffle oil would be tasty on this and there it was at the bottom of the post.

This looks FANTASTIC. I have never made mac & cheese for the same reason as you - I would eat way too much of it.
That looks wonderful. Homemade kicks out of the box's butt every day and twice on Sunday! - John
Anonymous said…
I think I see the blood! Ha! Hey you had to use less salt! Thsi looks awesome, I rarely make my own, my kids won't eat it anyway...they want the sucks!
Anonymous said…
Welcome to the club! Cheddar and Comte sounds great. For some reason, I never do the breadcrumb layer on top. One of these days, I'll try it.
Michele said…
Okay, i'll admit it, I am also a mac and cheese version! That will change this weekend though. I am going to attempt mac and cheese bites for a dinner party!!!
Anonymous said…
Sounds good! I haven't had much luck making M&C from scratch. Call me crazy, but I still love the Kraft white cheddar kind and whenever I make it I find myself making comparisons.
Anonymous said…
Ok Sta...HOW the hell do you stay so good looking eating (and drinking) so well every day????!!!!
SarahB said…
mmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!! Is there anything else to say!?
Giff said…
you have a new calling. You *must* start selling snow-shovel outfits on Etsy!

Glad you liked the recipe. I'll have to try it with Comte/Gruyere. And I'll have to try Kat's recipe as well!
I would say you're not a virgin anymore!! This looks sinfully good! You look so cute out there, you must have the best metabolism Stace. I'm gaining weight just looking at this!
Robin said…
Butter, half and half, cheese...? What's not to like! Looks delish! Thanks for the recipe!
Anonymous said…
I cannot believe I am about to admit this but I have no idea what the big deal is with truffles because I have never had any. Should I be embarrassed?

Your #1 Fan, Ellen B
Martha actually made mac and cheese on her show the other day and since then I have been craving it like no other! Your post has solidified the fact that I am so having mac and cheese for dinner!
Patsyk said…
Between food magazines and blogs... I keep running into mac & cheese. I've made it a couple of times, but am still searching for "the" recipe. I love the way you dressed yours up with truffle oil... what a treat!
i'd never made mac and cheese until recently either... and also did a grown up version with lobster, inspired by an austrian chef who works in NY. i loved it, and i love the idea of yours even more... this might just be the ticket for a lazy sunday dinner... thanks!
Connie said…
Forgive me for asking this silly question...what kind of hat are you wearing in the snow shoveling pic?
It looks like a UPS hat??
Stacey Snacks said…
I am wearing a NY Mets baseball cap! How funny!
Melissa said…
After 2 glasses of wine, I started grating my knuckles.
I mean grating the cheese on a box grater!


I have never made M&C either. Steve kept saying he would hate anything but the yellow stuff in a box, but then he was served some at a dinner party and felt obligated to try it. Wanna guess if he liked it or not? Ha. So I'll try one soon like you have. And a mix of Cheddar and Gruyere - oh yeah!
tavolini said…
Did you eat the whole pan? Seriously, I have never made it either for the same reason. I have very, very, very little self control around delicious food ;)

I have been eyeing that Martha Steward recipe for a hot second, though.
Rico said…
how can this not have 5 stars not fair surely crispy macarroni cheese is the best...and this one sure lives up to it...well done thx for sharing ..saw you on foodbuzz
Anita Lau said…
thank you for this recipe. my son's been bugging me for mac n cheese and I haven't had time to google a recipe for it. he doesn't like the kid version of mac n cheese so i think gruyere will work fine. i might use a mixture of gruyere, cheddar and gorgonzola since he loves gorgonzola! thanks again!!