Creamy Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese from Saveur & Tag You’re It!

Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

This has got to be the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had!

That’s a quote from my husband, as he went for thirds.     I can’t wait to share this recipe with you…but guess what?      I’ve been invited to guest post on one of my favorite blogs.    I’m visiting Chef Dennis, Executive Chef and Director of Dining Services at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, PA, at his Culinary Journey blog -  More Than a Mount Full.

Please click on over and visit Chef Dennis’ blog of some truly original and beautiful food…and please don’t forget to read the rest of this creamy Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese recipe and write-up…see you there!

Earlier this year, Saveur’s May 2010 issue was about great comfort food and featured the ultimate guide to macaroni and cheese. I was drooling over the issue and promised myself to to get back to some of the recipes. It’s October already, I can’t believe how the year has just sped by. I’ve returned to the issue because of pasta and cheese…could there be a better combination of ingredients and food? Truth be told about macaroni and cheese, I never experienced it until I was a teen…that’s another story that I look forward to sharing at another time.

This creamy mac and cheese boasts four cheeses, sharp white cheddar, Gruyère, Velveeta and blue cheese. I had some older rosemary/sourdough bread that I used for the topping, but regardless of the bread you use…don’t omit the bread. The bread topping gives it a delicate textured crunch that is not to be missed. Fantastic recipe!

Serve this as a main or side dish – during the holidays or any time during the year. This is a keeper of a recipe!

Teenie Notes

  • Used rosemary sourdough bread for the bread crumbs
  • Note: You will discard the springs of thyme and bay leaf.
  • Used low-fat milk (2%).
  • Cheeses can get expensive. Without a doubt, Costco saves the day.
  • The directions say to process the bread slices until finely ground. I liked mine a little chunkier, so I tore them into to very small pieces instead of using the food processor. I enjoyed more body of the bread that created a fantastic texture on the top of the mac and cheese.
Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
modified from Saveur – May 2010

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Macaroni and Cheese - sauce thickness

Salt to taste
8 ounces elbow macaroni
3 slices white bread, crust removed

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 shallots, minced
1 bay leaf

1/4 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups low-fat milk

10 ounces grated sharp white cheddar (about 4 cups)
10 ounces grated Gruyère (about 4 cups)
6 ounces Velveeta, cut into small cubes
1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Bring a 4-quart saucepan of water to boil, lightly seasoned with salt. Add pasta and cook as directed on package for half the cooking time, about 3 1/2 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Tear bread slices into extra small pieces; set aside. With the pan used to boil the pasta, return it to medium-low heat and melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add bread and stir to combine. Transfer bread crumb mixture to a plate or bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the pan and set on medium heat. Melt remaining butter and add paprika, thyme sprigs, shallots, and bay leaf. Cook until shallots have softened, stirring constantly about 5 minutes. Add flour and cayenne and stir until mixture thickens, about 1 minute.

Whisk in the milk and cook, continuing to whisk until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon (see image above), about 10 minutes. Discard the thyme springs and bay leaf and remove pan from heat.

Stir in cheddar, half of the Gruyère, the Velveeta, and blue cheese. Continue stirring until smooth. Stir in pasta and season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta/cheese mixture to a baking pan that’s been lightly sprayed with non-stick spray. Evenly distribute remaining Gruyère over top of pasta and then top with bread crumbs. Place baking dish on a baking sheet that’s been lined with aluminum foil and bake at timing listed below OR until bubbly and crust has turned a golden brown.

Cooking time:

  • For a 8″x8″ baking pan; about 30 minutes.
  • For smaller individual-sized portions (as pictured) about 12-15 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving with a crisp green salad and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon!

Macaroni Pasta


On another note, Chef Dennis tagged me in a game designed to learn more about fellow bloggers. Here are the questions he posed and my answers:

1.  If you could eat anything without any health repercussions or guilt, what would your meal be? If I could eat anything without health repercussions at any time – it would be various pastries (laden with seasonal fruits, nuts and butter!).    But if it’s just one meal without any health repercussions…it would be either steak or pasta – hands-down!
2.  If you could meet anyone living or dead who would it be and why? I would meet my Dad and never let the moment end to have him back in my life again.
3.  Why did you start blogging and what did you expect when you started? I originally started blogging as resource about cupcakes and a means to share recipes and musings with family.   The blog lay dormant for a bit until I came back to it and took it into another direction, despite the name.   I cook, bake, enjoy wine and enjoy eating good food so my goal is to reflect that and not just about desserts.
4.  What is the one book you could read over and over again. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy along with The Hobbit. I first read Tolkien’s works when I was pre-teen. I’ve never really read the whole series through again since then, except for bits and pieces, chapters.   I love his descriptive,  intricate style and that he painstakingly created another world with a new language.  He has so many beautiful quotes and ideas.
5.  If you could travel anywhere, where would it be? Everywhere! I’d start within my own country and then continue to Spain, Italy, France (in that order) and then begin with everywhere.
6.  If you could have a TV show on the Food Network what would it be? That’s a tough one…
7.  What was the best meal you ever had? I’ve enjoyed many meals so that’s a challenging question, but of most  recent it would be an Anniversary dinner at Botero’s at the Wynn in Las Vegas – an amazing steak au poivre and an insanely best dessert ever – banana bread pudding.
8.  Who had the greatest influence on your love for food and learning to cook? My Mom is a fantastic cook with amazing, creative talents. She can replicate a dish and make it even better than the original. She very rarely, if ever, uses recipes. So my Mom is definitely an inspirational influence. Also, my father really enjoyed good food and his generosity surrounding meals was profound.   Daily meals, holidays and special occasions always included family and food.   Good food…good memories growing up in my Mom & Dad’s home.    My parents and siblings were supportive about my baking and cooking and when I married, my husband continued that support too.  It’s me being able to give back to those I love and that they appreciate and enjoy it too.   It motivates me.

Thank you Chef Dennis, that was fun!   Now – I’m tagging back!

My questions…

1. What are five things that is absolutely a staple in your pantry/refrigerator?

2. What are some of your favorite food scenes in movies?

3. What would you consider are three of your cooking and/or baking specialties?

4. Name a couple of your personal cringe-inducing ingredients or dishes?

5. Favorite movie (doesn’t have to be about food)?

6. With the holidays around the corner, what dish/dessert are you sure to contribute?

7. Share a kitchen disaster or funny moment when your cooking or baking just didn’t measure up.

8. How did you come up with the name of your blog?

I look forward to reading your responses and hope you’ll play along too!

Please don’t forget to visit Chef Dennis at More Than a Mount Full.    He has one of the best blogs out there…you’ll enjoy both his style of writing and the mouthwatering dishes he prepares.

This is the last weekend for October 2010.     The rest of the year is made up of holidays.    Fasten your seatbelts..!

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  1. says

    That is a drool-worthy looking mac n cheese, so I will definitely be heading over to Chef Dennis- and then thinking about the answers I will give to your questions. What a cool game!

  2. says

    Hi Cristina! You and I are two peas in a pod! Steak would be tops on my list of favorite foods, especially if you add horseradish and blue cheese! Thanks for adding me to the fun! I truly enjoy checking out what you’re doing next. :)

  3. says

    Cristina, you’re so sweet to include me, thank you. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my blogger friends more through their answers and this is no exception. I so agree with you on #5. Spain was always my #1 destination and I long to return. When you go, I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

    I’m not very good at thinking of questions but I’ll try hard and keep the game going. Your mac and cheese looks gorgeous, too. :-)

  4. says

    Oh my word. That macaroni and cheese looks last-meal-on-earth good.

    Thanks for tagging me…all interesting questions that I could probably write a blog post each on (except for my favorite movie, which is easy: Lord of the Rings trilogy). As for answering the rest in a succinct or timely manner, all I can say is I’ll try! :)

  5. says

    You know I will be checking out your post on Chef Dennis’ site! I adore macaroni and cheese, and I could eat your recipes every night of the week! Thank you for tagging me! You are so sweet. I don’t know if I will have time due to the craziness of the hospital and baby Ryan, but I will try!

  6. says

    Cristina, first off, that Macaroni and Cheese looks phenomenal! And the photo, as usual, looks absolutely beautiful! I am a homemade macaroni and cheese addict! Can you believe that growing up I never really had it out of a box. My mom always made it from scratch, bechamel sauce and all. Now that is the only way I will eat it (gluten-free, though, of course).
    Yay! Thanks so much for tagging me! I accept the challenge, lol, and will definitely play along! What a fun, fun idea!!

    • says

      I’m glad you’re going to play along, Kim!

      Mac and Cheese is dear to my heart, but not because it brings back Mom’s version of mac/cheese. My Mom never made mac/cheese! Yup. I was dating this gorgeous guy in high school. He made me lunch, one afternoon, and I was absolutely blown away. It was Kraft macaroni and cheese. My Mom never made boxed things and she didn’t make many pasta dishes — so mac/cheese was the best thing since sliced bread to me.

      That gorgeous guy that made me my first mac and cheese…I married him ten years later. My soulmate. :)

  7. says

    Oh, Cristina this macaroni and cheese looks heavenly! But then again, I’ve never met a mac I didn’t like… I’m going to go check out the recipe now! Thanks for the questionnaire tag – Loved your answers, and hopefully I can get around to filling it out, too!

  8. says

    Wow, that mac and cheese sure looks amazing! It’s one of my favorite dishes and I’m always eager to try a new recipe. I’ll have to start thinking about those questions…

  9. says

    I swear that one day I will do a cook book devoted to the Macaroni and Cheese casseroles! This recipe will have to be included! That little hint of blue cheese and the herbs are inspired! Kudos to you! What a wonderful discovery, I’ve just made! Will be back to visit!

  10. says

    Hi Cristina
    Thanks again for such a wonderful guest post, and for playing our little game of tag! Its always nice to learn more about our online friends!
    Have a safe and happy Halloween weekend!
    Dennis