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Music City Missy

My current fave is Stonewall Kitchen's - both DH & DD liked it - rare to ge them both to agree!

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mlinkinhoker@hotmail.com
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Joined: Dec 9, 2005

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Posted to Thread #9660 at 2:08 am on Feb 4, 2008

four-cheese macaroni with thyme-parmesan crust

Trust us, this is not your ordinary mac and cheese. When you add fresh mozzarella, Fontina, Parmesan, and mascarpone cheeses to pasta, something out of the ordinary happens. We also add a layer of fresh mozzarella in the middle of the pasta dish, for the ultimate cheese experience, and scatter a mixture of grated Parmesan, thyme, and bread crumbs on top for a crunchy topping. You can make the dish in one large skillet or baking dish, or make it in individual ramekins, but you'll need to reduce the baking time. The dish can be assembled up to 2 hours ahead of time and baked just before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

1 pound short, textured pasta, such as macaroni, cavatappi, ziti rigati, or penne rigate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk, warmed
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, half grated and half very thinly sliced (about 3 cups total)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
To prepare
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until barely al dente, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain, return to the pot, and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over low heat. When the butter has melted completely and begins to sizzle, add the flour and whisk until combined. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Add half of the warm milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining milk, whisk again until smooth, and increase the heat to medium-high, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the grated mozzarella, half of the Parmesan, and all of the Fontina and mascarpone, whisking constantly to prevent the cheese from becoming lumpy. When the sauce is completely smooth, add salt and pepper to taste and 2 tablespoons of the thyme.

Pour the sauce over the pasta in the pot and stir to combine completely. Spoon half of the pasta into a large oven-proof skillet or a roughly 9 x 12-inch baking dish, or several smaller dishes (ramekins work really well) and arrange the mozzarella slices evenly over the pasta. Pour the remaining pasta over the cheese layer and spread evenly.

Mix the remaining Parmesan cheese, the remaining 2 teaspoons thyme, and the bread crumbs together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the pasta. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil evenly over the crust.

Bake the pasta for 30 to 40 minutes (smaller dishes will bake in 15 to 20 minutes), or until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Serve hot.

Favorite variations

Substitute Gruyere, Emmenthaler, or Swiss cheese for the Fontina.
Substitute crumbled fresh goat cheese for the mascarpone.
Add 1 cup chopped cooked ham or chicken to the sauce before pouring over the pasta.
Add 1/2 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts) or finely chopped yellow onion to the cheese sauce.
Add 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves, 1/4 cup chopped chives, and 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves to the cheese sauce.

From Stonewall Kitchen Favorites
Jonathan King, Jim Stott,and Kathy Gunst
Randon House/Clarkson Potter


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