I was invited to a party a couple of months ago at which the hostess was serving Carolina style barbecue pork. I wanted to bring a side dish that would complement the pork, and I decided on macaroni and cheese. I love love love my mother’s homemade macaroni and cheese with a crispy bread crumb topping. However, I didn’t have (or more likely couldn’t find) my mom’s recipe, so I looked around for another one to try. I came across this Williams Sonoma recipe for smokey macaroni and cheese, and I thought it looked interesting. I used whole wheat pasta to make it just a bit healthier, and I substituted Panko bread crumbs for the regular bread. I thought the dish had a great deep flavor from the smoked Gouda, and it was definitely hearty and filling. I thought it would be a bit creamier, but that could have been because I used whole wheat pasta and Panko bread crumbs. I’d definitely make this again.
Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Williams Sonoma
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 ounces crustless country-style bread (I substituted with 4 ounces of Panko bread crumbs)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound rigatoni or your choice of pasta, cooked until al dente and drained
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a large rectangular baking dish.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the 4 tablespoons butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the tomato paste. Add 1 1/2 cups of each cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne.
Tear the bread into crumbs. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and the 2 tablespoons melted butter and season with salt. (Or stir together Panko bread crumbs with melted butter)
In a large bowl, combine the pasta and the cheese sauce, then pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining cheeses and the buttered bread crumbs. Bake until the cheeses are golden and bubbly, about 40 minutes. If the top becomes too dark, cover with aluminum foil. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8 to 10.