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4 Fancy Mac and Cheese Recipe Ideas

Transform humble mac and cheese into something special with these recipe ideas from the book Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.

Matt Armendariz, from MELT, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Petit Basque with Roasted Garlic, Shallots, and Gemelli

Petit Basque is a kicker of a cheese, lending the dish a mild, nutty flavor with just a hint of fruit. Roasted garlic brings with it a touch of sweetness, while sautéed shallots provide a piquant note.

Serves 4

2 whole heads garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

½ cup diced shallots
(1 whole bulb)

8 ounces gemelli

1½ cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces Petit Basque, shredded

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel off most of the outer paper holding the garlic together. Trim off the top ¼ inch of the garlic with a sharp knife. Place the garlic in a small ramekin or other garlic-sized, ovenproof bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Cover ramekin loosely with foil and roast for 1 hour or until garlic is soft. Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze it out of its skin and mash it up with a fork.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook until they brown, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep them from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.
4. To prepare the mornay sauce, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to steam and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium flame. Add the flour and stir with a flat-edge wooden paddle just until the roux begins to take on a light brown color, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon—a finger drawn along the back of the spoon should leave a clear swath. Add the mashed garlic cloves to the sauce, followed by the shallots and their cooking oil. Stir well.
5. Remove the sauce from heat and stir in salt and pepper. Add cheese to sauce, stirring until completely melted. Add pasta, folding until all noodles are covered with sauce. Stir in chives and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Alternative cheeses: Barinaga Ranch, Abbaye de Bel’loc, or a caramelly Basque-style cheese

Wine pairings: red Rhône blends, Cabernet Franc, Mencia

Additional pairings for the cheese: Serrano ham, polenta, roasted garlic, grapes

Recipe by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company.

Matt Armendariz, from MELT, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar with Avocado, Lime and Shell Pasta

If you can’t make it to the famous Pike’s Place Market to visit renowned Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (or their shop in New York City), you can order their signature cheddar online here. The smooth texture of puréed avocado, jalapeno pepper, lime, lime zest, garlic, and green onion complements tangy cheddar beautifully in this jade-colored mac. If you can’t take the heat, remove the ribs and seeds from the peppers.

Matt Armendariz, from MELT, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Campo de Montalban Mini-Galettes with Broccoli and Prosciutto

This savory combination of spicy prosciutto, broccoli, and Campo de Montalban, a Spanish cheese (reminiscent of Manchego) that’s a mix of cow, goat, and sheep milk nestles itself in a flaky pastry. If you want to indulge in this fancy casserole without the pastry, try spreading torn french bread and cheese on top before baking.

Matt Armendariz, from MELT, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Peppers Stuffed with Miticream and Toasted Orzo

Bake mac and cheese in stuffed peppers topped with a round slice of lemon for a playful and colorful tweak on the classic. This recipe uses crumbled Miticrema, a soft salty and acidic sheep milk’s cheese from the Murcia region of Spain.

Matt Armendariz, from MELT, courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

For more delicious recipes pick up Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese by Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord here.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest