The Secrets of Our Favorite Mac & Cheese
Bechemal is one of the mother sauce in French cuisine. There are many variations of it but the setup is always the same: a white sauce made up of a roux (melting butter with flour) and milk. It is also the foundation to a great macaroni and cheese. For this mac we decided to use King Arthur flour because of its higher protein content (30% more than Gold Medal flour) which makes the roux lighter and in turn more elastic and structure when mixed together in the sauce. This will make the sauce much fluffier even with the amount of cheese we will be using!
The other secret to our favorite Mac is the addition of blue cheese to replace the typical sharp cheddar that's used. For those who loves blue cheese, the saltiness and sharp flavor cut through the creaminess of the sauce and adds an indescribable dreaminess to every bite.
Choosing the right pasta will maximize the amount of sauce every bite will hold. My favorite is cavatappi, which means corkscrew in Italian. Just like any macaroni, it is hollow in the middle but it also spirals on the outside.
BAKED MACARONI WITH THREE CHEESES
50 MINS AND COUNTING: Preheat the oven at 400 F°. Heat a pot of water for the pasta. On a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Once butter is melted and bubbling, toss in 1 cup of panko and 4 finely chopped garlic and mix until golden brown, about 2-3 mins. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of grated Parmesan and salt to taste, mix well and set aside. Water should be boiling by now - add 1/2 lb of pasta into the boiling water and cook for 6 mins so it's al dente. ( important to not overlook as the baking will further cook it later). Before making the sauce, premix all the cheese into a bowl (1-1/2 cup of mozzarella, 1/4 cup of provolone, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup of blue cheese).
40 MINS AND COUNTING: While the pasta is cooking (which should be ready in few mins to be drained and set aside), heat a large skillet on medium-low heat and add 1/4 cup of butter. Once melted, sprinkle 3 tablespoons of flour and constantly stir until mixed well and turned into light golden brown, about 3 mins. Slowly add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of milk while whisking to blend together. Keep gently whisking until the sauce thickens and starts to rise. The sauce should stick on the back of the wooden spoon. In small batches, slowly mix in the cheeses in folding motion. Add new batch when the previous batch of cheeses are completely melted. Season to taste.
30 MINS AND COUNTING: Mix pasta into the cheese sauce and transfer onto baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup. Gently sprinkle few drops of salt on top. Evenly sprinkle the panko crumbs on top. Bake for 18-20 mins, or until the crunch is golden brown.
10 MINS AND COUNTING: Let it cool for 10-15 mins and dig in! You will want seconds for sure!
Butter, split into 1/2 cup and 1/2 tablespoons
Olive oil, 1/2 tablespoons
Garlic, 4 cloves minced
Panko breadcrumbs, 1 cup
Cavatappi, 1/2 lbs
Flour, 3 tablespoons (bread flour works best)
Heavy cream, 1/4 cup
Milk, 1 cup
Grated Parmesan, split into 1 cup and 1/2 cup
Shredded mozzarella , 1-1/2 cup
Shredded provolone, 1/4 cup
Blue cheese, 1/4 cup
Salt, a pinch