CUT Macaroni and Cheese

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I figured it was about time to post another macaroni and cheese recipe.? Because it’s been that kind of winter.? Because it’s the ultimate comfort food.? Because I need to seriously get back in shape before my sister’s wedding in a few months and this was one of my “last hurrahs” as far as indulgent main dishes.? (On a sidenote, isn’t it so funny how you can start swearing off a certain dessert/drink/food, and then that’s exactly what you start insanely craving? Yeah, well, this happens to me a lot.)

This is the ultimate in mac and cheese recipes (well, at least my definition of a great mac and cheese.), which is served as a side dish?in Wolfgang Puck’s chain of CUT restaurants.? This is how I like mine:? creamy (probably the most important part-I want each and every noodle to soak up the cheese-which is why I used the shells….more concavity for cheese to collect in), a nice sharp cheesy taste, and a little bit of buttery crunch on top from baking it.? I love a creamy stove top macaroni and cheese for the consistency,?but I love the texture of a topping from a baked mac and cheese (although I find that baking a mac and cheese sometimes ruins the nice creamy consistency).? This one combines both features.

You can also play around here with what kind of cheeses you put into this dish-although I wouldn’t skip on the creme fraiche.? It gives the dish such a creamy consistency and this?light flavor.? The other thing?? This recipe makes a ton of mac and cheese, so unless you are feeding a small army, you could make half.? (I ended up freezing a lot of mine.)

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CUT Macaroni and Cheese

Servings: at least 8-10

 

Ingredients

6 tablespoons ?unsalted butter

6?tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 bay leaf

4 cups milk? (I used skim.? It was fine to use here-use whatever you have on hand.)

1 and?1/4 cups crème fra?che

1 and ?1/2 teaspoons sea salt

3 and?3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 and 3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used a?mild cheddar, but?sharp would be just as good.)

1?pound?whole wheat pasta shells, cooked al dente

3/4 cup whole wheat panko

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Instructions

1. Preheat?your oven to 375 degrees.

2. Generously spray a 3- to4- quart baking dish with cooking spray.? (I actually used a Dutch oven for this.)

3. In a 4-quart saucepan (or a Dutch oven if it’s oven-safe)?over medium heat, melt the? butter.

4.?Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, until blended, about 1 minute (it will be clumpy).

5. ?Add the bay leaf and slowly whisk in the milk until mostly?smooth (don’t worry if you still have a few clumps of flour.).? Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened (about 10 minutes or so for me).

6. ?Remove the bay leaf and discard.

7.?Add the crème fra?che and the sea salt, whisking until smooth, and bring the mixture to a simmer.

8.??Remove from the heat and stir in 1 and 1/4 cups? of the mozzarella and? 1 and 1/4 cups of the shredded?cheddar.

9.? Season the cheese mixture to taste with additional salt (and pepper, if you like.)

10.? Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and add 2 cups of the mozzarella.?(if you are using a Dutch oven that you will bake the mac and cheese in.? If not, combine everything in a large bowl and then transfer to your prepared baking dish)

11. Sprinkle the pasta?with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and cheddar.

12.? Top the pasta with the whole wheat panko and Parmesan cheese (if using).

13. Bake until the?panko is?golden and the cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Source:?? Adapted from Williams-Sonoma.

February 4, 2014 - 10:05 am

Josie - Mmmm this looks amazing, Shanon. I have the same requirements in mac and cheese. The combo of creaminess and crunchy top is key.

Also, I love your use of the word concavity ??

February 4, 2014 - 10:35 am

srlacy - Hahaha! YES! I was wondering if anyone would notice that. I love it! Concavity=excess cheese.

February 4, 2014 - 7:35 pm

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - I seriously need to get into better shape before my own wedding this summer! lol This pasta is making me want to steer right into carb town though….I feel like this recipe is worth it.

February 5, 2014 - 12:18 am

Joanne - I’m supposed to be on a wedding diet also, and all I can think about is CHEESE, CHEESE, and MORE CHEESE. Definitely adding this to my last hurrah menu. You know, the one I have every sunday before I start over on Monday. ??

February 5, 2014 - 6:17 pm

Carol at Wild Goose Tea - Even though in my part of the country, we have had a mild winter–knock on wood—-I live in the Pacific NW—even winter and in fact every season is a most excellent reason to revisit macaroni and cheese. This recipe has what it takes!

February 6, 2014 - 7:10 am

bellini - Macaroni and these is the ultimate comfort food.

February 19, 2014 - 2:37 pm

Phi @ www.sweetphi.com - Wow! This looks incredible! Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world!
You’re SO right about the second you want to swear off something, you want it all the time! My best friend is getting married this year so I need to start swearing off a LOT of things haha!
I’ve never seen Mac N Cheese with creme fraiche…where does one buy creme fraiche?

March 10, 2014 - 7:26 pm

Mariah Eddins - I have seen creme fraiche in other places I have lived, but it is not available where I currently live. Could you give a good sub? Whipping cream? Whole milk? What would you recommend?

March 10, 2014 - 9:27 pm

srlacy - Hi Mariah-

Greek yogurt or even sour cream would be equivalent alternatives. Hope these work for you-the mac and cheese is awesome!

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