Boxed mac n’ cheese – the great orange equalizer of life. Moms serve it to kids mixed with tuna and peas, college students eat it “Easy Mac” style, vegans are die hard about finding a cheese-free substitute, even the Barenaked Ladies said they’d continue to eat it as millionaires, they’d just eat more. So I feel confident in saying that if you’re American, you’re likely a connoisseur of the macaroni cheesiness.
And if you are a connoisseur sometimes you want to take it to the hilt. For Thanksgiving I was in search of just such a mac n’ cheese dish. I found the original version of this recipe via Bon Appetit. They call it “Mac and Cheese with Sourdough Breadcrumbs.” I tweaked it a bit and have a list of names that I would choose to call it:
- OMG with Cheese
- $20 Macaroni
- Heart Attack Mac
and…”This Ain’t Cho Mamma’s Mac n’ Cheese.”
If you have a discretionary grocery budget, a deep passion for cheese, well controlled cholesterol levels or a holiday dinner coming up, then enjoy! In the recipe below you’ll see the adaptions I made to the recipe. (I mean, I love comfort food but I’m still an RD.) If you want to see the original you can check it out on Bon Appetit’s website. Spoiler alert: they post the calories, so you’ve been warned!
P.S. Dear Santa, all I want from Christmas is some natural light!
This Ain’t Cho Mamma’s Mac n’ Cheese
adapted from Bon Appetit’s Mac and Cheese with Sourdough Breadcrumbs
- ~4 cups sourdough bread, torn into 1″ pieces
- 5+ Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup shallots, diced
- 2 Tbsp fresh marjoram (or rosemary or oregano)
**steps 1-3 can be done 1-2 days beforehand. Just store croutons in airtight container**
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Toss bread pieces with ~3-4 Tbsp olive oil and spread across rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake until bread crusts and turns golden brown (20-25 minutes).
- In large skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil on med-high heat. Add shallots and herbs and cook until shallots are translucent, then add croutons. Toss together, remove from heat and set to the side.
Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb cooked pasta (rotini, shells, macaroni or any other that will hold onto sauce well)
- 1/4 cup AP flour
- 3/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (3/4 tsp if you like an extra kick)
- 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) butter
- 4 cups skim milk
- 3 cups extra sharp Cheddar, grated (could probably get away with 2% Cheddar without sacrificing much flavor in this dish)
- 3 cups Fontina cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated (or fresh Parmesan)
- Salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh ground nutmeg to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Directions **can be assembled day beforehand and kept covered in fridge**
- Preheat oven to 375°F and coat 9×13″ casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Cook pasta according to package directions, making sure to salt the water.
- Meanwhile, sift together flour, nutmeg and cayenne pepper and melt butter in large pot over med-high heat. Add in flour mixture; let cook 1 minute, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Do not let roux brown.
- After 1 minute, slowly whisk in skim milk and hold at a simmer for 4-5 minutes.
- Whisk in only 2 cups Cheddar, 2 cups Fontina and 1/4 cup Romano cheeses, let melt and season with salt, pepper and additional nutmeg as needed. Mix in cooked, drained pasta and remove from heat.
- Spread 1/2 of pasta mixture along bottom of casserole dish, top with remaining cheese and then other half of pasta mixture. Lastly, top with breadcrumbs.
- Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes; sauce should bubble along sides of casserole. Remove foil and bake an additional 7-12 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Top with chopped parsley if desired.