Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I’m not sure if I know anyone who says no to mac-n-cheese! It’s quite irresistible, especially on an evening you’re snowed in with a blizzard. Picture this– white everywhere– in the sky, on the ground, all street sounds subdued with the snow and the smell of melting cheese in the oven. It was truly a perfect moment for us at home! 
This recipe is improvised from Suvir Saran’s cookbook of his favorite home mealsAmerican Masala. I’ve made it a few times and will surely repeat it each time. 
Serves 8 to 10

1 pound penne, ziti or elbow
1 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, coarsely grated
1 pound mixed soft to semi-hard cheese, like Cheddar, Gouda, Taleggio
4 ounces Pecorino cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 cup panko or regular bread crumbs
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh oregano
1 tsp ground peppercorns
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 tbsp Dijon or spicy mustard
  1. 1.Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
  2. 2.Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. When water boils, cook pasta until not quite al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. 3.Mix grated cheeses in a large bowl. Transfer 1/2 cup to another bowl and mix with the breadcrumbs for the topping.
  4. 4.Heat butter with the herbs and peppers until fragrant on a medium-high flame.
  5. 5.Reduce heat to medium, whisk in the flour and cook for another minute. 
  6. 6.Drizzle in milk and whisk to combine until well incorporated. 
  7. 7.Increase heat to medium-high and let the sauce thicken, around 3 minutes. 
  8. 8.Whisk in the mustard and cook for another 30 seconds.
  9. 9.Add grated cheeses and stir until melted.
  10. 10.Stir the drained pasta into the sauce and transfer to a 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb-cheese topping and bake until the topping is browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

    As Suvir Saran says, ‘this is such a simple recipe. Besides the Parmigiano-Reggiano, you can use whatever other cheeses you already have in your refrigerator. However, be considerate of the proportion according to the strength and arome of the cheese.
    Try adding bacon bits to it too for that extra smoky flavor.

    Panko breadcrumbs add to the crispiness. But regular breadcrumbs work too.

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