Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mac & Cheese with Pancetta

Fancy mac fancy mac.

This was luxury in your mouth, this recipe. Wowsers. And let's not even mention that it will feed a small family of 3 for three nights in a row. That I like.

I adapted this recipe from a ward cookbook in Salt Lake. Instead of the orecchiette pasta that it calls for, I used whole wheat elbows and then swapped in Italian- style breadcrumbs for the panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) that is calls for. Hey, a girl's gotta rotate her pantry.

Anyways, the mascarpone cheese is a wonderful and creamy component, though I must admit, if you're going to spend the extra mula, I'd personally go with cream cheese next time and save your wallet some stress. I like to use mascarpone when you can really taste it and it stands out as the main ingredient or flavor. With all the different things going on this casserole, it gets hidden under the pancetta and sharp cheddar cheese. I also added some sliced tomatoes on top for color and some nutrition.

There you have it: my two cents. It's a great dish. Toodles!

Fancy Italian Mac & Cheese

1 stick butter, divided
4 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups (or a little more) milk
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 8 ounce container mascarpone (or cream cheese) cheese
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 lb orecciette or elbow-shaped pasta

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, and saute until crisp. Add onion, saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and garlic, stirring for about 1 minute. Stir in 3 Tbsp butter and allow to melt. Add the flour and stir another minute. Then gradually whisk in milk and simmer until it's thick enough to coat a spoon thickly. Remove from heat and add the cheeses, whisking until melted. Add more milk by 1/4 cup-fuls until the sauce is thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt 4 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet and saute the breadcrumbs until lightly golden. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a glass 9 x 13 baking dish. Cook pasta in a large pot until just tender but still firm to the bite. Drain well and return pasta to pot. Add the warm cheese sauce and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer this mixture to a baking dish and sprinkle the crumb mixture all over (if you want tomatoes, place those on top of cheese mixture before the breadcrumbs). Bake the casserole for about 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown and cheese below is oozzzing.


Emily said...

Kate we are so coming to dinner!

Lilianne said...

Kate- plain and simple, i think you're fabulous!!!!