Favorite Mac n Cheese

Making this dish is a process but it's totally worth it. The full recipe makes one 9 x 13 baking dish (plus a little left over for the cook) and it can easily be cut in half as well--but honestly, why would you want to?

PREP TIME: 45 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hours 30 minutes

1lb large elbow macaroni
16oz sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated
16oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
8oz Parmesan or Asiago cheese, grated
1 5oz tub of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1 cup panko (japanese) bread crumbs
4 cups whole milk
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I like Kitchen Basics brand)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
3 eggs (take the eggs out of the fridge when you first begin cooking to bring them to room temperature)
1 head garlic, split crosswise
1 Peri & Sons red onion, sliced into very thin rings
1/2 - 1 small hot pepper such as a jalapeño, split lengthwise
5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (plus more for boiling the pasta)

Make your milk mixture. In a medium sauce pan, bring the milk, thyme, hot pepper and garlic to a scald on medium-low. Do not boil. You should just see small bubbles on the edges of the pan. Heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set the milk aside to steep with the aromatics.

Make the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of salt to the water then add the pasta. Boil pasta, stirring occasionally for 6 minutes. Do not boil any longer than that - your pasta should be very al dente. Drain pasta in a colander, rinse and set aside.

Strain the milk mixture to remove the aromatics. You will need the flavored milk for the next step.

Whisk eggs in a bowl (use a bowl with enough room in it to add about a cup of liquid later) and set aside.

Make the sauce. Heat a large sauce pan to medium on the stove and add your butter, olive oil and flour. Whisk about every 30 seconds for 3-4 minutes, until the roux is a medium golden color. Add about a cup of milk at a time, whisking constantly. Add your stock and bring the sauce to a low boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Temper the eggs by adding a cup of the hot sauce mixture to the eggs, very slowly, whisking constantly. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the rest of the sauce and whisk. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Add the yellow cheddar, white cheddar and gorgonzola cheeses, about a handful at a time and stir until mostly melted. Don't worry if the sauce is a little lumpy at this point, it'll all melt together once you bake the macaroni. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Combine the cheese sauce with the pasta and pour into your baking dish. Layer onion slices on top. Cover and let sit on the kitchen counter for 2-3 hours. If you skip this step, the pasta won't absorb the sauce and you will have crunchy macaroni and cheese.

2-3 hours later…

Preheat your oven to 375. Sprinkle the panko crumbs and parmesan cheese over the top of the macaroni. You can garnish with a little ground pepper or chopped chives if you like. Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour or until the macaroni is golden and bubbly and delicious. Remove from oven, let sit for 15 minutes and serve.