…here’s the deal with that bowl of warm, comforting goodness of macaroni and cheese. This savory tour de force combines salty pancetta, woodsy rosemary, fragrant sage, meaty portobellos and smokey gouda to make this rich, creamy (and dare I say, elegant?) blend of seasonal deliciousness.
Make this for a holiday party, make it for dinner, make it for Santa; just make it.
Pancetta, Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese
10 oz small shaped pasta (I used penne)
1/2 lb pancetta or center-cut bacon, diced
1 white onion, diced
1 large portobello mushroom cap, diced
Sea Salt, Cracked Black Pepper
3 tbs AP flour
2-3c. milk (I used whole but 2% would work fine)
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tbs FRESH rosemary
1 tbs FRESH sage
(I am normally ok with substituting dry; but don’t do it here; its crucial)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2c. shredded mozzarella
1/2c. shredded Parmesan (or Romano or Asiago)
1 c. shredded gouda (smoked or aged preferably; I used the 1000 Day Gouda from Trader Joe’s – Amazing)
1/2c. panko bread crumbs
2 tbs butter melted (or olive oil spray)
Set a large pot of cold water on to boil. Once boiling, cook pasta 9-12 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside (adding a splash of olive oil to prevent sticking).
Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease a 9×11 dish and set aside.
Set a deep saute pan over medium heat, add bacon. Allow bacon to cook for 5 minutes; allowing some of the fat to render into the pan. Add onion and mushroom to the pan (sprinkle with sea salt and cracked pepper); cook together for 10 minutes until vegetables are soft and the bacon has cooked off most of the fat. Sprinkle flour over the mix, stirring to coat the bacon-vegetable mix. Sloowwwllly add milk, stirring a little bit at a time to create the sauce; keeping adding milk and stirring until the sauce has thickened but you have about 1/2 the pan filled with sauce (I eyeballed this; but it was between 2 and 3 cups; you want to make enough!).
Stir in mustard powder, fresh herbs. Slowly add cheeses, stirring to ensure there are no cheese lumps. Taste sauce here; add more salt/pepper/garlic/rosemary as needed. Stir in cooked pasta.
Transfer this gorgeousness to buttered dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Drizzle melted butter over the crumbs (or spritz with olive oil); if you don’t the crumbs won’t toast. Bake for 20 minutes until golden bubbly. Allow to cool slighly. Wait for applause. Serves 4-6.