Fancy Mac N’ Cheese

For the Sauce Mornay

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup diced onion
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 2/3 cups milk
  • 1 1/3 cups cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • white pepper (black is okay if you don’t mind little specks in your perfect sauce)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (we used jarlsberg – a real sauce mornay uses gruyere)

For the Macaroni Gratin

  • 8 oz small elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups Mornay Sauce
  • 1 cup sauteed mushrooms
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 teaspoons minced thyme
  • 1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons bread crumbs

In a very heavy-bottomed large saucepan with lots of room, melt the butter.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute gently for 2-3 minutes.  Add the flour and stir well, never allowing the flour to brown.  Switch to a whisk and slowly add half the milk while whisking constantly.  Add all the cream while still whisking, then the rest of the milk.

Bring to a simmer, add the bay leaf, peppercorns, and cloves.  Turn the heat as low as possible and simmer the sauce, whisking occasionally, for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, boil some water, preheat the oven to 375, prepare the mushrooms, mince your thyme, and grate the cheese.  With a 10 minutes left for the sauce, cook the macaroni until tender, then drain and run cold water over it to prevent sticking.  Remove the sauce from the heat and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Strain it to remove the cloves and peppercorns, add the cheese, and whisk until it’s all melted.

Add the macaroni and mushrooms, and stir to incorporate.  You’ll notice the sauce is very loose–the pasta will absord much of it in the oven.  Pour into a 9 X 15 inch gratin dish, or individual large ramekins.  Sprinkle with cheese, breadcrumbs, and thyme.  Cook on a baking dish in case it bubbles over at 375 for 15-20 minutes.  Turn on the broiler if it’s not browned.

Original source: The Paupered Chef blog.

One response to “Fancy Mac N’ Cheese

  1. Just made a very similar recipe of this last week – but that was the Martha Stewart version. Looking over both they seem similar! The dish is SO big but makes such good leftovers!

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