Macaroni & Cheese

Alaina would be disgusted by this deliciously cheesy Barefoot Contessa grown-up version of baked macaroni and cheese. It is insanely cheesy. I don’t understand. How can you be Italian and hate cheese!?  I happen to be in love with this dish. Over the years baked macaroni and cheese has become my ultimate indulgence meal. Brent and I always bake macaroni and cheese for his birthday. I’ve experimented with several blends of cheese, and toppings, and this one tops them all. I love the creamy blend of gruyere, with the bite of blue and cheddar cheese, topped with crusty bread crumb topping. I’m drooling as I type. Too bad we never have leftovers. 

Ingredients:
Kosher salt
2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a baking dish.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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