Thursday, September 10, 2009


Macaroni and cheese- the ultimate comfort food. This rich and creamy dish harkens back to childhood for me when my mother would combine tangy cheddar cheese with elbow macaroni and a pinch of cayenne in her homemade cheese sauce. It was so delicious!
With the start of school today, a gratifying and easy dinner of macaroni and cheese seemed to fit the bill. My mac and cheese uses a mix of nutty gruyere and parmesan cheese which creates a delicate, flavorful cheese sauce. I like to elevate the piquancy by adding thin ribbons of parma prosciutto to the mixture before baking. The chewy, salty prosciutto is the perfect foil to the cheese and cream mixture- fantastic for a school night or dinner for a crowd!

Macaroni and Cheese with Prosciutto

For macaroni and sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1 pound coarsely grated gruyere cheese (6 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
5 oz. paper thin parma prosciutto chopped
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

Make sauce:
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes, then whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses (minus 1/2 cup gruyere), 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add chopped proscuitto to sauce. Remove from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper.

Make Macaroni:
Cook macaroni in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain macaroni in a colander. Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to 2 buttered 2-quart shallow baking dishes and top with remaining gruyere cheese.

Bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

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