French-Style Mac 'n' Cheese
This mac 'n' cheese is delicious from the stove top or, you can process stale French bread into breadcrumbs. Top the mac-n-cheese with the fresh crumbs tossed with a little melted butter and parsley, and brown under the broiler in casserole dish for a more formal presentation.
- 1 pound penne rigate or cavatappi pasta
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and halved
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 rounded tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (a few grates)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese, about 8 ounces
- 1/3 pound Camembert or Brie cheese, rind removed
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped plus additional for garnish
Yields: Serves 4-6
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add pasta and cook to al dente.
While the pasta cooks, rub the inside of a saucepot with the cut side of the garlic then heat the pot over medium heat. Melt butter, whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook to thicken, a couple of minutes.
Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Using a wooden spoon, stir the cheese into the sauce in a figure-8 motion to melt. Stir in the mustard and thyme then remove from heat.
Drain the pasta and toss it back into the hot pot. Pour the cheese sauce over pasta and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve in shallow bowls with a little thyme sprinkled on top for garnish.
Serve with a green salad tossed with vinaigrette, sliced ripe pears and toasted walnuts or honey-roasted pecans alongside.
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