One of the “top ten” comfort foods on most everyone’s list has to be pasta. Dig deeper into which pasta dish would be at the top of the list and the answer would probably be macaroni and cheese. It is such a favorite that most of us have given it the nickname of mac and cheese. Make this three cheese mac and cheese gratin and serve it at your family dinner table or to friends for a weekend gathering. Either way, you will get lots of compliments, I’m sure.
I make my mac and cheese with 1% milk which is a little lighter version but of course you can prepare it with whole milk, half and half or even cream, if you wish. I like to bake the mac and cheese in individual gratin dishes but it can also be prepared in a casserole for a group. This dish gets its great flavor from three cheeses, Gruyère, Fontina and Pecorino Romano. It has a crispy topping that makes every bite special and totally delicious.
Three Cheese Mac And Cheese Gratin
This makes two servings, adjust the recipe according.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 1 c. mini rigatoni pasta (ridged pasta holds sauce better but any tube pasta will work)
- 2 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. flour (I used Wondra, an instant flour)
- 1 c. 1% milk (whole milk or half and half may be substituted)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. white pepper
- 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/2 c. grated Gruyère cheese
- 1/2 c. grated Fontina cheese
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced fine
- 1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
In the meantime, place the minced garlic and oil in a bowl and heat in a microwave for 15 seconds to infuse the oil with the garlic. Remove from the microwave and stir in the panko breadcrumbs until well coated. Let cool then add the panko breadcrumbs and the Romano cheese and mix well.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter in a saucepan until melted. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring for one minute. Slowly add the milk and whisk until blended. Add the salt, pepper and mustard, whisk and then let cook for a few minutes until you have a smooth sauce. Add in the Gruyère and Fontina cheese and stir to blend.
When the pasta is done, drain well and add to the cheese sauce and stir until combined.
Divide the pasta into two individual gratin dishes that have been buttered and mound the cheesy panko crumbs on top. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly. If not brown on the top, place under the broiler for a minute but watch carefully so that the crumbs don’t burn. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
The baked mac and cheese gratin has a wonderful cheesy taste from the three very flavorful cheeses…two in the sauce and one in the crisp and crunchy breadcrumb topping. I served the gratin with a salad of crisp romaine lettuce and grape tomatoes. A glass of dry white wine went perfectly. This is a comfort meal that will be on my “top ten” list.