The ritual of preparing this incredibly savory rich dish makes me smile incessantly, every single time. The sheer happiness of watching the twinkle in the eaters eye as copious amounts of cheese covered pasta oozes from plate, to fork, to mouth, is sweet satisfaction.
1 stick butter
2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 1/2 grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated fresh mozzarella
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated gruyère
1 pound cavatappi pasta
2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
- In a small bowl, mix together panko, 1/4 cup parmesan, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- In a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour as butter is melting and whisk for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is thoroughly combined and forms a paste. Whisk in milk and heavy cream, bring to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes.
- Stir in remaining parmesan, grated cheddar, fresh mozzarella, and gruyère cheeses and then add mustard. Stir in 1 tablespoon cayenne, 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste, remove from heat.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted h20 to a boil over medium heat and cook the cavatappi for about 7 minutes, until al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the saucepan with cheese sauce. Stir well.
- Place the macaroni and cheese into a buttered 3 quart baking dish. Top the casserole with the breadcrumb mixture and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling.
- Once out of the oven, drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over finished product and devour.