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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Best Macaroni & Cheese You'll Ever Have

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

You'll need:
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:

You'll need:
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)

72 comments:

Kristin said...

This looks delicious!!
www.withmilkandsugar.blogspot.com

Amanda said...

ok....these are two of my favorite things!! mac n' cheese and miss naomi! what a wonderful post and thank you ladies for sharing this with us. i am eager to make it!

xo, amanda

http://mamawatters.blogspot.com

deloom.com said...

Ooooh... This looks delicious! I'll have to try this tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!

The A and B Stories said...

OH MY GOD. I will be making this tonight, for sure.

Kendall Monroe said...

thanks for sharing Naomi!

AVY said...

Huge cravings.

/ Avy
http://MyMotherFuckedMickJagger.blogspot.com



Lindsay @ Darling Clementine said...

Oh my! Could you get yummier than adding pancetta!?

Rita Maria said...

I only tried Mac&Cheese from the box once and it was so horrible I swore never to try it again, but your recipe sounds lovely and I am definitely trying it!

PS: it is spelled Béchamel.

hello, Friday said...

I was so craving for Mac and Cheese! xoxo

Don't miss my giveaway here;
http://www.hellohellofriday.com/2012/05/giveaway.html

astrid irene natalie said...

this sounds like cheese heaven!

Diana Mieczan said...

Oh boy, it looks totally scrumptious! Btw: you are so right, it's one of those amazing home-y meals that I crave all the time. Wish you both a great day. Kisses:)

Ana Sofia said...

That looks so tasty! I could do with a plate of that :)

Love, Ana
cupcakesandflowers.blogspot.co.uk
x

Ryan K said...

That looks amazing!

Kate said...

The biggest fight I've ever gotten into with my boyfriend was because I tried to help him make a white queso a la our favorite Mexican restaurants but when I started making a bechamel he freaked the eff out because he "didn't want flour in the cheese dip!!!" I told him he didn't know anything about cooking and stormed out of the kitchen.

You've GOT to try Naomi's recipe for her Puff Pancakes. It's my new weekend treat for myself (and occasional dinner.)

Robyn said...

looks sssoooo good!cold here tonight-this is just what i feel like!

Ana Magdalena said...

yummm I must try this!

Bethany said...

Recently taught myself how to make mac-n-cheese. I grew up eating it Kraft-from-a-box style, so I never realized how complicated the real thing can be when you first try it, but now I love making it. My favorite things to fancy it up : shredded fresh spinach, diced red bell peppers, and bacon bits.

Also, the other night I had planned to make carbonara, but realized at the last second (after adding the egg) that the only thing I had was feta cheese... I gave it a shot, and it turned out even better than when I use parmesan. Who'd have thought! :)

American Mom in Bordeaux said...

Looks delicious!! Need to try that recipe sometime. Yum!!

Lauren said...

This looks like Underwood's recipe (restaurant in Northern California). Definitely pinning (and making) this! Thanks!

annawithlove said...

This looks absolutely delicious! YUM!!

Inevitable Disaster said...

looks tasty, I should try it!

Kiasa said...

Isn't Naomi wonderful?! I knew her when we both lived in Harlem. Thanks for the deliciousness!

Bows and Sparrows said...

I've made it my mission to try all the mac & cheese dishes in my town. I'll have to add this to my list and have my boyfriend make it for me!

Simply Marilla said...

Thanks, what a perfect recipe for when you are in the mood for comfort food. My Friday menu is now planned.

.aubrey c. said...

YES please, who does not love this stuff!?


http://gandacummings.blogspot.com

Jenny McL said...

Good but fav veggie verision is the sacue is made with butter used to sweat some leeks. Then Garlic and paprika are added before the milk and Jarlsberg cheese. Then cook pasta add leeks and sauce top with breadcrumbs and sundried tomatoes. Tasty

He and She said...

I've only ever tried mac and cheese once when I was young at my friends house and I hated it. I think it must have been from a packet because it tasted so powdery and the cheese tasted awful.

I might have to get over my fear and try this recipe without the pancetta (vegetarian).

Fingers crossed Naomi's recipe is better than whatever my friends mum tried to feed me.

C x

antique engagement rings said...

Love this italian take on mac and cheese. Looks amazing!

Amy Turman said...

I love a good "grown up" mac n cheese - but I tend to still like the stuff from the box better than anything I've ever come up with.

The bleu cheese may be the twist I need.

xoxo,
mon amy

Trina said...

Chuckling to myself: I'm craving mac 'n' cheese for lunch, idly head over to your blog, and lo there's an image of best mac 'n' cheese at the top of your page. Funny how the world works sometimes... :)

Melissa Blake said...

Yummy! You had me at macaroni and cheese...I have ZERO willpower when it comes to that stuff!

sweet harvest moon said...

This looks amazing!

Trina said...

P.S. On this subject I feel compelled to give a shoutout Homeroom, based in Oakland, CA, and devoted solely to mac 'n' cheese (well, with desserts and sides too): http://homeroom510.com/menu What I'm really craving is the Vermont white cheddar mac, billed as the creamiest on the menu. Mmm...

J+H @ Beyond The Stoop said...

i love them!! i didn't know they had such delicious recipes up their sleeves though! i always see them eating out ;)

Shoko said...

Would it be wrong to make this for breakfast today? :)

dervla @ The Curator said...

yummmm! Trying this out tonight for my family. I think my 3 year old will inhale this.

kaitlin said...

This sounds delicious, and I'll try not to be a stickler about the recipe, but I have a few questions: It's bechamel sauce, without an 's', right? Also, how many grams or ounces is 1 1/2 cups pancetta? How thickly sliced is it? I assume it's cubed, but depending on the size of the cubes, 1 1/2 cups could be a lot or less...Hopefully if Naomi is lurking in the comments, she can help :)

thanks!

kati said...

oh geez, i am on a diet to lose my 2 year old baby weight and this is NOT helping. that looks so freaking good :)

Anonymous said...

Had really great mac and cheese the other day at pies 'n' thighs in South Williamsburg the other day. So yummy!

Sarah Carlson said...

Delicious! I have been craving home made mac and cheese like crazy the past few days!

Jenni Austria Germany said...

so happy to see miss naomi on here :)

i want to try this recipe asap...i love all things carbohydrate...even better when cheese is involved.

Sasha said...

such a classic! i certainly agree that mac and cheese makes any day better.

tara polly said...

i adore your blog AND naomi's so this is just a match made in heaven for me! would have to ditch the meat but might have to try this soon. love!

blog.tarapolly.com

Kate said...

Yum, it looks delicious! I love macaroni cheese, one of my favourite meals :)

Kate {Something Fabulous}
http://thesomethingfabulous.blogspot.com

laura fox gill said...

om nom nom. recently rediscovered mac and cheese--I think it takes everyone back to childhood!

x

http://laurafoxgill.blogspot.co.uk

GRACE said...

yummy yummy yummy~

xx,
grace

Two Cups of Comfort said...

this looks delicious! i tried naomi's puffed pancake recipe and it was amazing, so i will definitely be trying this!! xox

Nadia Woodhouse said...

There isn't a thing I love more than pasta and cheese, thanks for the recipe! Love the blog and Rockstar diaries!

Nadia
abrightlineup.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

So funny, I just made Mac and cheese last night using this recipe.... It has spinach and mushrooms in it...sooooo delicious! I subbed mozzarella cheese for the fontina ;)
http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2012/02/29/mushroom-and-spinach-macaroni-and-cheese/

Jesselyn said...

Funny, I just made mac and cheese this weekend. A new favorite restaurant in Dallas (Sissy's Southern Kitchen and Bar) serves a great one so I set out to replicate it. Mine has a similar roux base but I browned the roux a bit for some depth and used extra sharp cheddar and gruyere cheese instead. I need to take a cue from this recipe and add pancetta. Also I feel like a spiraly-er pasta holds cheese better and makes each bite yummier!

jamie said...

made it — LOVE IT!!! thanks for a new staple! (we substituted almond milk & ghee, worked just fine!!)

Cherise L. C. said...

Glad to hear that almond milk and ghee can sub for the cheese, because my hubby not only requires gluten-free pasta, he can't stomach dairy either! It usually is a frustrating experience to read mouthwatering blogs like this, so thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ooh was just in Boston and Stephanie's on Newbury Street had the most wonderful mac n cheese with prosciutto and truffle oil. Have been in search of a similar recipe since returning. Will definitely be trying this!

Sunshine said...

That looks so good! I love mac and cheese too.

www.cancerinthecity.com

Dottie said...

I had friends over for dinner tonight and decided to try this recipe. Turned out good! I made a gluten free version, with special noodles, brown rice flower for the béchamel, and skipped the bread crumbs. For the cheese, I used cheddar, gouda, and goat. The truffle oil and pancetta really made the dish and the use of béchamel was brilliant.

Thanks for the tip!

simply said...

now i know what i'll cook for lunch! ;) thank you!

Eliza Jane said...

Oh my god this looks SO good!!

Emma said...

Sorry to be so pedantic, but mac and cheese is not really Italian food...

Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn said...

I can only image how good this tastes! Between the saltiness of the pancetta and the creamy bechamel. So glad that you've chosen a "Best" Mac & Cheese that has a crunchy topping - I cannot abide mac & cheese that doesn't have a little crunch!

Lauren E. said...

This is VERY close to my own recipe! For my 3 cheeses I use: parmesan, cheddar, and mascarpone. It really adds a super creamy finish... http://laurenfoode.com/2010/04/19/the-cheesiest-mac-of-them-all/

Alana said...

I hate when they add bacon or pancetta to mac and cheese. Generally speaking ham makes everything better, but when it comes to mac and cheese, I'm a purist. If your recipe is so good, you don't need pancetta or bacon to flavor it up. You should be tasting the cheeses!

Amy said...

Made this last night and it was divine! Thank you for sharing - it's a new favorite.

Kaegan said...

Sounds absolutely amazing! I can't wait to try it!

Meryl Judith said...

So I decided to try this recipe over the weekend to bring to a neighbor who just had her second baby and it was so good!! Threw in some spinach to get a little veg in and used a Cambozola blue cheese, (milder and brie-like.) Definitely keeping this mac & cheese recipe for the future! ...and passing it along to said neighbor's mother-in-law at her request :) Thanks!

Nadia Ivanova said...

I made it last night but used chunks of Spanish jam instead of pancetta as they didn't have any. It was absolutely delicious!!!

Jamie Herzlinger said...

I MUST MUST MUST try this recipe!!!

Carole said...

It is Food on Friday time at Carole’s Chatter. This week it is all about cheese. It would be great if you would link this post in to Food on Friday

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