This is a fairly old, but wonderful, recipe from the now out-of-print Gourmet magazine. It’s basically an upgraded mac and cheese dish that tastes outstanding, but it hits you in the bank account a bit if you use the exact cheeses for which the recipe calls. Note that the full recipe makes a huge amount. A half-recipe is definitely enough to feed two or three hungry people.
I’ve made this with the required cheeses, and with substitutes, as was the batch pictured here. While it’s certainly OK to substitute, ensure that the substitutes you use have very similar melting qualities to the original.
In the version pictured here, I used provolone, gruyere and gouda, to pretty good effect, though next time I’d swap the provolone for something that melts a little creamier.
This recipe does call for a raw egg yolk to be added to the melted cheese. The yolk gets mostly cooked and diluted as it’s mixed in, but if you’re concerned about salmonella, you can always omit it.
Speaking of omissions, you could also omit the rosemary, sage and oregano. The herbs do add a nice touch, but the cheeses alone, stand very well on their own.
What you’ll need
- 6 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced (I used peppered bacon, which turned out great)
- 1.5 lbs dried macaroni
- 6 oz Fontina, cut into small cubes
- 6 oz Bel Paese, cut into small cubes
- 6 oz Gruyere, but into small cubes
- 3T tomato sauce
- 0.25 cups heavy cream
- 0.5t minced fresh rosemary
- 0.5t minced fresh sage
- 0.5t minced fresh oregano
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
What to do
Cook the diced bacon in a frypan until it’s crispy. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked pieces to a paper-towel-lined plate and set aside.
Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water to al dente. Then drain in a colander and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, start gently melting the first three cheeses in a large heavy pot over low heat, along with the tomato sauce, cream and herbs, if using. The pot needs to be large enough to hold all of the cooked pasta, too. Mix the ingredients as the cheese melts.
When the cheeses are melted, put the egg yolk in a small bowl and add about 0.5 cups of the cheese sauce to the bowl, whisking to temper the yolk. Add the tempered yolk to the cheese and mix well.
Remove the cheese from the heat and add the cooked macaroni, bacon, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, tossing and stirring to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Note that this should be served as soon as it’s ready. It will quickly lose its creamy-cheese magic after it cools and needs to be reheated.