Is there anything more comforting than a piping hot bowl of rich, gooey-cheesy, homemade mac ‘n cheese? I still long for those 70’s boxes of Kraft that came with the little powdered cheese packet and you added your own milk and butter! I think I still remember that it called for 1/3 cup milk and a half a stick of butter! That stuff was the best! Now it isn’t worth the box it came in and I just can’t eat it. Is it just me?? I went for a lot of years rarely making my own from scratch because I didn’t always have the time, or frankly, just didn’t even want to mess with the whole béchamel process for a side dish. If I was just doing barbecued chicken or something, then it was more likely to make an appearance on the table! But this method you are going to love!! So simple a supervised child or teen can even make it and it’s outstanding! No white sauce to make! And more rich and creamy than any I’ve ever tasted. Tender, hearty rigatoni noodles bathed in a rich, velvety 4-cheese blend mixture that thickens as it bakes into a dreamy sauce that tastes like a 5-star restaurant! Simple enough for a quick weeknight meal with a salad, yet elegant enough to be served alongside a fancy main dish when entertaining. Not kidding. I’d be proud to serve this to any of my friends! But warning, this is a dieter’s worst nightmare! I do not EVEN want to know how much fat and calories are in this. But this is special, and if you’re going to make mac ‘n cheese, then make it worth it, right? Enjoy it, indulge, and appreciate it when you do want that kill-me-now-if-I’m-about-to-die-this-is-what-I want-last kind of meal!
*Two things I have discovered about this, though, is that it doesn’t bake nearly as well in a shallow 13×9 baking dish. A smaller, deeper casserole dish is what I highly recommend. Also, it really doesn’t like the microwave. They just don’t seem to want to make friends, at all, and act like an old married couple that fuss and fight and it separates. It does much better lightly rewarmed in a clean dish in the oven. I’ve come to just scale back and only make what’s going to be eaten at a time. You can always simply pour into two smaller dishes and bake only one at a time, or even bake in individual serving-size bowls. But we never seem to have any trouble with leftovers! It always disappears like magic!
I do hope you give this a try soon! You’ll be shocked and fall in love at first bite! You won’t want it any other way and it could not be easier to make to boot! Also really wonderful with a few extra additions depending on if you’re having this as a side dish or a meal in itself. Enjoy and thank me later! The mac ‘n cheese life just got easier! Have a wonderful day all! 🙂
ADULT 4-CHEESE MAC ‘N CHEESE with RIGATONI
1 (16 oz.) box rigatoni pasta
1 Tbl. Kosher salt
1 (8 oz.) block monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 (8 oz.) block extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 (4 oz.) wedge fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grated
1/3 cup finely crumbled blue cheese
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. table salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
light dusting of smoked sweet paprika
crisp crumbled bacon
snipped green onions or chives
thinly sliced tomatoes on top (salt & pepper lightly)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water with 1 Tbl. Kosher salt. Drain well, do not rinse. Pour into large mixing bowl.
Add half of the jack, cheddar and parmigiano-reggiano, all of the blue and the heavy cream. Fold gently to lightly mix. Add salt, garlic and white pepper, stir gently to mix well.
Pour mixture into deep 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. (*This does not do as well in a 13×9.) Sprinkle top evenly with the rest of the cheeses. Sprinkle with parsley and lightly dust top with paprika to garnish.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.
Note: This does not reheat well in the microwave and tends to separate. Reheat in oven, or scale down recipe only making enough for what’s going to be eaten at that time.