This is my take on mac and cheese. Instead of macaroni elbows, I prefer rotini as I like how the swirls hold the creamy cheesy sauce, and not to mention that it looks much better than the elbows! I used my 3 favorite cheese to make the sauce: brie, smoked gouda and of course, white cheddar cheese. The combination of those three is so perfectly delicious and sumptuous. I don’t think you can ever go wrong in any pasta recipe when using those three cheese. I guarantee you, this is sooooo much better than the boxed mac and cheese!
- 1 16 oz box of rotini pasta, cooked
- about 1 1/2 cups of smoked gouda, grated
- about 2 cups of extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- about 1 cup of brie, crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- about 1 cup mushroom, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
- about 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- parsley (optional)
The very first thing I did was to grate the cheese. It may take some time, but believe me, it will make things faster. I do prefer to grate the cheese myself, and not buy the grated ones at the store. Not only is much cheaper, and more flavorful, and hey, that’s your workout right there, right?
Cook the pasta according to the box instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, you can start with the cheese sauce.
In a pan over medium heat, heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute onion and mushroom for about 3 minutes or so. Then add in the grated or minced garlic.
Once the mushrooms are cooked, add in about 3 tablespoons of butter. Let it melt and simmer for a minute or so.
Once the butter has melted, add in 3 tablespoons of flour and whisk everything to make sure no lumps are present. Let the flour cook for about 3-5 minutes.
And now we begin the construction of the flavor and creaminess of the sauce. Pour into the pan 1 1/2 cups whole milk and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and let it simmer for few minutes until thick or until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Make sure to stir frequently. And yes, it has to be whole milk. You can replace the heavy cream with milk or half and half, but it has to be “whole” milk. There is some sort of chemistry going on in the mixture and the fat from the whole milk is essential.
Once that’s done, lower the heat into the lowest setting. Melt the crumbled brie first into the mixture, stirring frequently.
Once melted, turn the heat off before melting the other two cheese as we don’t want the cheese to be tough. The residual heat will melt the cheese. Just keep stirring until both cheese have fully melted and the sauce comes together.
Once the cheese have melted, it’s time to add in salt and pepper, and any seasonings you prefer (ie: paprika, garlic powder, etc.).
Then it’s time to pour the sauce into the pasta, and very gently stir everything together. The sauce may look like it’s a lot, but believe me, it will thickened as it cools.
This is completely optional, especially that the pasta is already good as it is right now, but I prefer to add a bright color to this dish, so I roughly chopped up some parsley, and mix it with the sauce and pasta.
If you’re feeling indulgent, however, you can use bacon bits for that decadent crunch. Yum!
This is best served warm and right away. If there are leftovers, however, store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge. When re-heating, give it a splash of whole milk or heavy cream (about 1-2 tbsp or so, depending on how much you’re re-heating), pop in the microwave, decrease the “Cook Power” to 50%, then heat it starting at 1 minute. If it’s not fully warm enough after a minute, stir, then pop it back in the microwave using 1 minute interval until warm enough.