Okay, so this photo isn’t the prettiest. The lighting is awful. But I’d be remiss to not share this recipe with you. Herein lies one of my favorite dishes of all time. This mac and cheese is decadent, complex, and will have you going for
seconds thirds in no time. I’ve adapted it from a Food and Wine magazine recipe: I removed the cilantro and nutmeg from the original, upped the other herbs, and reduced the amount of fat here. But still: it’s cheesy, smoky, meaty, garlicy and satisfies all your carb-laden dreams. It’s time consuming and it’s unhealthy. But. It. Is. DELICIOUS.
You have been warned.
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mild white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
6 ounces andouille sausage, diced (or raw andouille sausage, crumbled)
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 pound medium pasta shells
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer. Keep warm over very low heat.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat until bubbling, 1 minute. Add the garlic, thyme, and cayenne and whisk until the roux is lightly browned, 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and cream until the sauce is smooth and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat, whisking, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mild cheddar and 1/2 cup of the sharp cheddar. Season the cheese sauce with salt and black pepper.
3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the panko and toast over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the skillet.
4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the sausage, bell pepper and onion and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are lightly browned, 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/4 cup of sliced scallions and the chopped parsley.
5. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, then return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and the andouille mixture. Season with hot sauce and salt and black pepper.
6. Spoon the pasta into a large oven-proof ceramic baking dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of sharp cheddar and the toasted panko. Bake until piping hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve warm.