Pancetta Crumb Baked Mac & Cheese
I know a good majority of us are pretty content with Box Mac N’ Cheese…. But I can say for myself, from a very young age I always had a taste for the “better” things in life. This wasn’t strictly in the food department… when my dad would take myself and my two other sisters shopping, he would set a budget between $200-$500. When my sisters would leave the store with 20+ items, I would have maybe 8 haha! I’ve always been one to go for quality over quantity. I’m not saying that Kraft or Velveeta don’t do the trick for me some days, but most of the time homemade hits the spot!
Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
1 box elbow macaroni
6 cups water
1 tablespoon black truffle oil
1 pinch of salt
4 tablespoons flour (¼ cup* optional)
1 tablespoon onion powder
½ tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon ground mustard
½ tablespoon paprika
2 cups milk
2 cups water
½ cup butter
1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/3 cup gorgonzola, crumbled
1 garlic clove, mince
Pancetta Bread Crumb Topping:
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup browned pancetta, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
In an 8 quart pot bring elbow macaroni, black truffle oil, and salt to a boil. I like my macaroni to be al dente so that it doesn’t get too mushy when it bakes. This usually takes about 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400.
While the pasta is boiling you can work on browning your pancetta for the bread crumb topping. Heat oil in a small non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the pancetta in and sauté until golden brown. After the pancetta is golden brown, take it off of the heat and in a medium bowl, combine with bread crumbs then set it to the side.
Once the pasta is done, strain excess water and set to the side. Time to get to work on the best part!
Heat butter in a large non-stick saucepan over medium high heat. When the butter is melted whisk in the 4 tablespoons of the flour. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART! SLOWLY pour in the milk. Roughly, about ¼ cup at a time. Try to whisk until the liquid has fully been absorbed by the flour and butter mixture. Repeat this process with the two cups of water as well. When you have added both the milk and water, add the salt, pepper, ground mustard, paprika, and garlic. After spices are all added, go ahead and add the white cheddar, gorgonzola, and parmesan cheeses.
Sometimes when I get to this point the sauce can still be a little too watery (even when you whisk and pour slowly)… so this is when the additional ¼ cup of flour comes into play. I take the flour and mix it with ½ cup of hot water. I mix this together until the consistency is a liquid paste. I then will add about 1 tablespoon at a time (whisking intermittently) until the sauce is the thick consistency comparable to an alfredo sauce. When it reaches this consistency, take it off of the heat and set to the side.
Now take the elbow macaroni and place it in a casserole dish or large cast iron dish. Once I have transferred over the macaroni I crack the two eggs over the macaroni and mix until the pieces are coated. Once they’ve all been coated, take your cheese rue and pour it over your macaroni. Again making sure that your macaroni is not only coated with the sauce, but there is enough to make it extra cheesy.
Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top and bake for 30 minutes.