I admit this might look like just another excuse to make more macaroni and cheese. But this is different, really. It's even easier than mac and cheese because you don't have to make a sauce, you simply layer everything into your skillet or gratin dish, and bake.
Putting the macaroni and cheese together like a classic gratin results in some interesting differences. For one thing you get so much more cheese flavor because it's not diluted in a creamy sauce. And the layer of cheese on top gets nice and crusty in the hot oven.
I make it a point to under cook the elbows, so they remain firm even after half an hour of bubbling away in the cheesy gratin. And use really good cheese, the sharper the better.
oven to 375
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drained
6 oz shredded cheese (I used sharp white cheddar and Gruyere)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a gratin dish, casserole, or cast iron skillet.
- Layer 1/3 of the macaroni on the bottom. Top the pasta with 1/3 of the cheese. Dot with butter, and sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg and cracked black pepper.
- Repeat this two more times for a total of three layers.
- Mix the milk and cream together and pour over the gratin.
- Bake the gratin for about 25 minutes, until bubbling. Set it under the broiler for the last minute or two if you like your crust browner, but watch it like a hawk.
This is macaroni and cheese good enough to impress your Valentine. What could be more sensual than a bubbling skillet of ooey gooey cheesy pasta topped with a crisp brown crust, and thou? Serve it up with a baguette and a nice California chardonnay to seal the deal..
One year ago today---