birthday / cheese / gourmet / kids / macaroni / party / princess / recipe

macaroni & cheese fit for a princess!

Yesterday was Joe’s niece’s Birthday – let’s call her Miss A.  Miss A has an affinity for all things pink, ballerinas, princesses and mac & cheese.  And being that it was her 4th Birthday, she wanted nothing more than a Princess Party!  Well, tonight was her Princess Party with the family, and in her honor I made some homemade Macaroni & Cheese that tasted so good…if I say so myself.  And I can recognize a good Mac & Cheese, trust me – I have quite the arsenal of Mac & Cheese recipes…my Easter Mac & Cheese specialty is KILLER!  But this was a recipe I had forgotten about, I changed a few things up…made a couple last minute tweaks and it turned out perfectly.
So by popular request, here is the recipe:
Macaroni & Cheese – Princess Style

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (for stronger garlic flavor – use 1 clove minced garlic)
6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4″ pieces
3 1/2 cups half & half
2 cups milk (1% or skim)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (I use a 1/4 tsp when making it for kids)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (I use a little less for kids)
4 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat (or in the microwave), melt 6 tablespoons butter and sprinkle in garlic powder. Pour garlic butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set bread crumbs aside. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in half & half and then milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, dry mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere and 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and bread crumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.
Hope you all enjoy! -n

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