Friday, September 11, 2009
This is most certainly not a dish you'll make often. Not because you won't want to, or that it's not creamy, flavorful and delicious, oh no; no, it's because it's not quite as cost effective as those blue boxes with the mysterious 'cheese' package.
It's a far sight better than those chemical laden preservative filled blue boxes, though - just to forewarn you. Those blue boxes just won't do it for you anymore, once you've tried the real thing.
In any case, this is a perfect dish for the upcoming season - comforting, filling, warm and delicious.
Bon Appétit shared this recipe as part of an article on the foods restaurant employees make for themselves before service starts - this Mac & Cheese with Pancetta is a favorite with staff at the Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar.
Mac & Cheese with Pancetta
Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups (plus extra) whole milk
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1-8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 pound orecchiette or elbow macaroni
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add pancetta and sauté until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the onion, sauté until lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic, stir 1 minute.
Stir in 3 tablespoons butter, allow to melt, then add the flour and stir 1 minute to cook off the 'raw' flavor. Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups milk; simmer till thickened and will coat a spoon thickly, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheeses. Whisk in more milk as necessary to render the sauce thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the panko breadcrumbs and toast until very light golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a large baking dish.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al denté. Drain but do not rinse. Return pasta to pot and add the cheese sauce, tossing to coat. Taste, and season as necessary with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into prepared dish and sprinkle crumb mixture over top. Bake until heated through and crumb topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.