Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What’s Cooking Wednesday – Italian Style Macaroni and Cheese

Today's What Cooking Wednesday is one of my favorite dishes to make.

I adapted my mom’s (she used cheddar cheese) and a recipe from THE NEW BASIC COOKBOOK. This is an excellent overall cookbook. It’s very user friendly.

I don’t have exact measurements for some of the added ingredients so use as much or little as you’d like.

You can use different types of cheeses if you can’t find Gruyère. Just make sure they melt well. I used Swiss. The better the quality of your cheese, the better the dish will be.

1 pound ditalini or another small tube-shaped pasta
1 small onion
pancetta cubed
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
dash of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated 4 cups.

Cook the pasta until just tender. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again and set aside in a large bowl.
While pasta is cooking, saute the onions until soft, set aside.
Saute the pancetta until slightly brown, set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.
Bring the milk just to a boil in a heavy saucepan and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in another heavy saucepan. Add the flour and whisk over low heat for 5 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from the heat.

Add the hot milk to the flour mixture and whisk well. Add the nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and return the pan to the heat. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thicken, 5 minutes. Add to the pasta and toss well to coat completely.

Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch flameproof baking dish, and fill it evenly with the pasta and sauce.
Distribute the grated cheese evenly over the pasta, and sprinkle with black pepper.

Place the dish on a baking sheet, and bake until hot, 20 to 25 minutes.

Place the dish under the broiler, 4 inches from the heat, until the top is slightly golden and bubbling 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately. (the leftovers the next day taste even better)
8 portions.


Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

Oooh, that looks good. I love baked mac and cheese and the pancetta is a nice "plus!" Grazie.

joanne at frutto della passione said...

Sounds and looks fab. I love baked pasta, especially reheated the next day!

My Mélange said...

Comfort food with pancetta!!!

I am *so* in!!!!

michelle of bleeding espresso said...

YUM! Very similar to a variation on my mom's mac and cheese...LOVE the pancetta and onions in it!

glamah16 said...

Oh yumm. Love the addition of pancetta. perfect filling comfort food.

Petulia said...

That looks so good right now. R and i are sitting at St Pancras Station and dreaming of macaroni and cheese.

Emily said...

This looks delicious! I love your addition of nutmeg - I bet it puts it over the top. We're having a comfort food recipe contest and I'd love to have you enter one of your favorite recipes. Check out the contest at - the prize is a $250 GC to

Shan said...

This looks great. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Don't forget to link back to the home of What's Cooking Wednesday.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

cherrye - you're welcome.

joanna - I so agree, the next day the flavors really come together.

my melange - it's starting to get chilly here. This dish is perfect for this time of year.

michelle - I could eat real (I can't stand that boxed crap) mac and cheese every day.

glamah16 - the pancetta adds so much flavor.

emily - the original had paprika but I didn't have any on hand and tried nutmeg. Now I always use the latter. Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out.

shan - thank you. I did link where it says, What's Cooking Wednesday in my post.

Kataroma said...

Yum- that looks great. I love the fact that you adapted it to ingredients you can find here (ie no cheddar cheese!) I tried to make brownies recently and couldn't find baking chocolate. I substituted a bar of melted eating chocolate (novi) and it was pretty awful (I also burnt them which didn't help!)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

kataroma - thanks for the compliment. Sorry to hear about your baking mishap. If I come across baking chocolate, I'll let you know. I remember seeing Italian baking chocolate at Sur La Table in the States. Of course it was crazy expensive but it was an import, I assume it would be cheaper here?

Speaking of cheddar cheese, that is my favorite cheese to make grilled cheese sandwiches with. I guess I won't be eating those for a while. ha

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

That looks simply lovely. The New Basics was one of my favorite wedding presents. I'm now a huge fan of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything for similar reasons.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jen - I've heard great things about Bittman's cookbook. I use The New Basics all the time. Even for general cooking questions.

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