Macaroni & cheese is one of those comfort foods that makes you feel better no matter what kind of day you've had. Three different cheeses, salty pancetta, warm pasta...I'm craving a big bowl right now. (And it makes great leftovers!) Luckily, Naomi from Rockstar Diaries agreed to reveal their favorite family recipe, which they (and their toddler daughter) can't get enough of...
The Best Macaroni and Cheese You'll Ever Have
By Naomi from Rockstar Diaries
We're big Italian food lovers at our house! My husband, Josh, came up with this fancy version of macaroni & cheese with a few twists. We can't get enough of it. Enjoy!
Recipe: The Best Macaroni and Cheese You'll Ever Have
Pasta (1 lb. dried ziti pasta)
1 1/2 cups pancetta
Béchamel (2 cups, see recipe below)
Cheese (We use 1 1/2 cups of shredded Asiago cheese, 1/2 cup shredded Fontina cheese and 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese)
1/2 cup of Panko crumbs
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease 2-quart casserole dish.
Cook ziti according to directions but al dente (do not overcook!). Drain pasta and set aside.
Prepare meat by dicing pancetta into tiny cubes; then sauté in a separate pan until slightly crispy.
Make a medium thick béchamel sauce (see separate recipe below). Gradually add the Asiago cheese, Fontina cheese and blue cheese to the Béchamel, stirring until melted. Stir in the cooked pancetta. Stir the (cheesy-pancetta-Béchamel) mixture into the cooked ziti. Pour the (pasta and cheesy-pancetta-Béchamel) mixture into the casserole dish.
Sprinkle the Panko crumbs on top of the pasta mixture. Cook in the oven, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe for Béchamel:
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Put the milk in a saucepan, turn on the heat to medium low, and bring the milk just to the verge of boiling.
While heating the milk, put the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and turn the heat to low. When the butter has melted completely, add all the flour, stirring it in with a wooden spoon. Cook, while stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Do not allow the flour to become colored. Remove from heat.
Add the hot milk to the flour-and-butter mixture, no more than 2 tablespoons of milk at a time. Stir steadily and thoroughly. As soon as the first 2 tablespoons of milk have been incorporated into the mixture, add 2 more and continue to stir. Repeat this procedure until you have added 1/3 cup milk; you can now put in the rest of the milk 1/2 cup at a time; stirring constantly, until all the milk has been smoothly combined with the flour and butter.
Place the pan over low heat, add the salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is as dense as thick cream.
Thank you to Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking help with the Béchamel recipe and to Better Homes & Gardens for the inspiration.
YUM! Thank you so much, Naomi!
P.S. More best recipes, including a lazy egg sandwich and a baked-potato bar...
(Thanks to Shoko for help with this series)