Hifalutin Mac & Cheeses

Any­body can make Krapft Mac & “Cheese.” This stuff is so good it takes four REAL cheeses.

Hat tip: My friend John Paulk of Mez­za­lu­na Fine Cater­ing, in Port­land, Ore.

  • Sauce:
  • 4 tbsp. unsalt­ed butter
  • 12 cup all-pur­pose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
    • 1 34 cup sharp cheddar
    • 14 cup smoked Gouda
    • 14 cup Jack or Swiss
  • 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 cup onion, fine­ly minced
  • 2 cloves gar­lic, fine­ly minced
  • 1 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1 pinch fresh­ly ground nutmeg
  • 12 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Pas­ta:
  • 8 oz. elbow mac­a­roni or penne
  • (This isn’t a mis­take) MORE GRATED CHEESE!
    • 12 cup sharp cheddar
    • 12 cup smoked Gouda
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of the fol­low­ing (use just one or two of them): 
    • Cooked thick slab bacon, sliced
    • Diced coun­try ham
    • Diced pro­sciut­to ham
    • Sautéed red and yel­low peppers
    • Sautéed mush­rooms

To pre­pare sauce, melt but­ter in a heavy-bot­tomed saucepan over medi­um heat then add the onions and gar­lic. Cook for 2–3 min­utes then and whisk in the flour. Con­tin­ue whisk­ing and cook for 2 min­utes. Slow­ly add milk, whisk­ing con­stant­ly. Cook until sauce thick­ens, about 10 min­utes, stir­ring fre­quent­ly. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, nut­meg, and papri­ka. Stir until cheese is melt­ed and all ingre­di­ents are incor­po­rat­ed, about 3 min­utes. Set aside.

Pre­heat oven to 350°. But­ter or oil an 8‑inch bak­ing dish. Cook pas­ta for 2 min­utes less than pack­age direc­tions. (It will fin­ish cook­ing in the oven.)

Rinse pas­ta in cold water and drain well.
Com­bine pas­ta and sauce in a medi­um bowl; mix care­ful­ly but thoroughly.

Next throw in your desired add-ins. Dump the pas­ta into the pre­pared bak­ing dish. Sprin­kle top with cheeses and the panko. Bake, cov­ered with foil for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for anoth­er 12 min­utes or until panko is gold­en. Let stand 5 min­utes before serving.