The best cure for the iciest of winter days is curling up by the fireplace with a glass of gluhwein and a heaping portion of baked mac 'n cheese. Here's a recipe for the latter from one of Chicago's cheese experts, Executive Chef Leonard Hollander of Marion Street Cheese Market. Chef Hollander was just awarded a Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin Guide, recognizing the bistro as an excellent option for diners on a budget.
Chef Leonard’s Baked Mac n’ Cheese
1.5 oz butter – recommended style: Vermont butter or cheese cultured butter
1 oz minced onion
1 oz all purpose flour
6 oz skim milk
3 oz heavy cream
3/4 tsp salt
1 oz gruyere – recommended style: Gruyere 1655 AOC - Le Cret - Switzerland
2 oz aged cheddar (6 months or more) – recommended style: WSDC Tulum aged 1-year, Plain, WI
1 oz chèvre – recommended style: Capriole Farmstead, Greenville, IA
1 oz parmesan – recommended style: Sarvecchio Parmesan – Sartori, Antigo, WI
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of cayenne
12 oz cooked pasta - elbow macaroni, small penne, shells or papardelle
2 oz panko bread crumbs
1 oz parmesan
1 oz cheddar
1 oz gruyere
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In a 1 qt saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add the onion, sauté until soft for about 3 minutes.
Whisk in the flour until a paste forms. Using a heatproof spatula, stir the roux continuously until it becomes a light blond color.
While whisking, stream in the milk and cream and continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil.
Stir in the cheeses, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and continue stirring until the cheeses are incorporated – creating a “mornay sauce”
Toss the hot mornay together with 12oz of your favorite cooked pasta and pour the mixture into a baking dish or pie pan.
In a small bowl, combine the panko, parmesan, cheddar and gruyere. Spread this mixture evenly across the top of the mac n’ cheese.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until top is golden.