The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (2024)

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Cathy Roma

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This is the richest, creamiest, most decadent and seriously addictive mac and cheese you’ll ever eat.

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (1)

Okay. It’s comfort food weather and frankly, it’s comfort food week, month, year. So given the season and the emotional climate, it just makes sense that we should betalking mac and cheese.

First I’ll tell you everything that my mac and cheese is….rich, creamy, addictive, satisfying, uber-cheeesy, flavorful, salty, indulgent and straight-up comfort.

Now, let’s be completely clear onwhat it isn’t….low-fat, low-carb, healthy, vegetarian, or for the faint of heart.

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (2)

This mac and cheese (and excuse the crassness) is the sh*t. This is drop the mic, shred all of your other mac and cheese recipes, pull on your elastic waistband sweats, “whoa, whoa, whoa, stop the clock”, mac and cheese. To be clear, I am not encouraging this for dailyconsumption. Nope…this is for “special” occasions.

This is break-up mac and cheese. This is nor’easter by the firemac and cheese. This is watching the news and feeling hopeless mac and cheese. This is a baseball game losing streak, raining for a week straight, realizing that Game of Thrones won’t be back for a year mac and cheese. This is 11th birthday party, post-successful-talent show appearance, your team made it to the Super Bowl mac and cheese. This is drown your sorrows, celebrate your wins, screw your diet, I’m only eating salad for the rest of the weekmac and cheese.

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (3)

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (4)

We are talking five (five!) cheeses, whole milk, heavy cream, curly noodles and a dab of anchovy (yep, anchovy) paste. We’re looking at a gorgeously cheesy sauce and a crunchy topping of buttery, herby bread crumbs. We’re talking decadence, escape, celebration, and mourning all in one drool-worthy bite.

This recipe is dedicated to my youngest son Max, my mac and cheese connoisseur. We celebrated his 11th birthday in New Orleans in the spring and he just about collapsed after tasting the mac and cheese at Cochon. He legit swooned. And damn if he wasn’t exactly right. Upon seeing his reaction, I immediately stole a bite of this cheesy goodness before he could stab my infiltrating hand with his fork. Woo-whee, this mac and cheese was everything. We prodded as much information as we could from our serverabout what exactly went into this dish of bliss and (at Max’s prodding) came back two days later to order it again. What we gleaned from our server was we needed anexcess of cream, a pile of cheese, white wine, rendered pancetta, and loads of garlic.

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (5)

So here we are six months later after carefulrecipe-testing and some very tasty trial and errors, I give you The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You’ll Ever Need. It’s a ballsy title, but deserved. And because I believe I’ve done my sweet Max proud, I’m finally ready to share it with you. I love the look and presentation of baking this in four 6-inch cast iron skillets, but all of the magic will still exist if you make it in one large baking dish (just extend your baking time by 5-10 mins).

So whether you’re celebrating or mourning, escaping or gathering, this is the dish of comfort you’ve been seeking. Because sometimes calories don’t matter, but filling one’s belly and at the same time one’s soul, does. Thanks to Cochon for the inspiration and thanks to my darling Max for reminding me of what sheer joy looks like.

New to cast iron? Here’s everything you need to know about cooking in cast iron pans!

3.77 from 56 votes

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (6)

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The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need

This is the richest, creamiest, most decadent and seriously addictive mac and cheese you'll ever eat.

Course:Main Dish/Pasta

Servings: 6 - 8 servings

Author: Cathy Roma | What Should I Make For...

Ingredients

  • 1lbcurly pastasuch as cavatappi or elbow, cooked according to package directions
  • 6ozpancettafinely diced
  • 8ozshallotsabout 2 cups, peeled and minced
  • 4clovesgarlicminced
  • 1tspanchovy paste
  • 1tspdry mustard
  • 1cupwhite wine
  • 2cupswhole milk
  • 2cupsheavy cream
  • 8ozmascarpone
  • 6ozsharp cheddar cheese1 1/2 cups, grated
  • 4ozgruyere(1 cup) grated
  • 4ozfontina(1 cup) grated
  • 1/2cupparmesangrated
  • 1/2tspkosher salt
  • 1tspfresh thymeminced
  • dash of hot sauce

  • Topping
  • 1/2cupdried bread crumbs
  • 2Tbspunsalted buttermelted
  • 1/4cupparmesan cheese
  • 1tspfresh parsleyminced
  • 1tspfresh chivesminced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter a large baking dish or 4 - 6" cast iron skillets or ramekins.

  2. Cook pancetta over medium heat in a dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot until golden brown, about 5 mins. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon to a plate and leave the drippings in the pan.

  3. Add the minced shallots to the drippings in the pan and saute until golden, about 3 mins. Add the garlic and cook 2-3 mins minutes more.

  4. Add the anchovy paste and dry mustard and stir well. Stir in the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until reduced by half, 4-5 mins.

  5. Add the milk, cream, cheeses, salt, thyme and hot sauce and bring to a simmer. Puree with an immersion blender or blend in a blender until smooth.

  6. Stir in the pasta and reserved pancetta and pour into the prepared dish or dishes.

  7. Topping: Stir all ingredients to combine and sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese mixture.

  8. Bake for 15-20 mins until breadcrumbs are browned and dishes are bubbling.

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About Cathy Roma

My food philosophy is simple: everything in moderation. Sweet, savory, healthy, decadent…food, like life, is all about balance. I rely on my background as a trained chef/mom to create family-friendly recipes that will inspire you to cook, not complicate your life.

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The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (7)

The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (8)
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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Melissa Griffiths says

    Sometimes you just have to go with the gold for legit comfort food. So much yum!

    Reply

    • Cathy says

      Couldn’t agree more Melissa! Salad will always be there tomorrow.

  2. Mimi says

    I’m not a huge mac ‘n cheese fan, probably because I was raised by a French woman, who never cooked anything like this, but I certainly love your choice of cheeses!!!

    Reply

    • Cathy says

      Thanks Mimi. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a mac n cheese convert!

  3. anna @ italian enough says

    *fans self* this looks incredible. i actually just made something similar and haven’t posted it yet. i added broccoli to feel less guilty. i love that you put in anchovy paste!

    Reply

    • Cathy says

      i think broccoli would be a welcome addition, though one out of two of my boys would beg to differ!

  4. Lonie says

    What if there is no cast iron skillet? Would a regular glass baking dish do?

    Reply

    • Cathy says

      Yes, just butter it beforehand and increase the cooking time. You’ll want to be sure the Mac n cheese is bubbling and the top golden brown.

  5. Shira says

    The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (9)
    Flavor profile there 150% but consistency of sauce is too thin. Usually find sauces based in traditional bachemel too thick but I think I’ll need to play with adding a little flour. Definitely think it’s a keeper. Hoping it will be a crowd pleaser tonight as well!

    Reply

    • Cathy says

      I haven’t had an issue with the thickness of the sauce, but you could try reducing it a little more or stirring a little flour into the fat to make a roux if you prefer it thicker.

  6. Gail says

    I haven’t made it yet but it looks like a fantastic recipe. I’m going to add some anchovy paste to the breadcrumb topping as well.

    Reply

    • Cathy Roma says

      I love it!! I’m all about that anchovy paste!

  7. Michael Peterson says

    What is the serving size? A cup? Half a cup for this recipe?

    Reply

    • Cathy Roma says

      It’s makes 4 six ounce skillets or can be baked in one large dish and served as a side dish.

  8. Meaghan says

    The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You'll Ever Need! (10)
    I am so excited to make this recipe, I’m doing to get the ingredients now. What size glass baking dish should I use?

    Thank you in advance

    Reply

    • Cathy Roma says

      I would use a 9×13 glass dish. Bake til golden and bubbly.

    • Meaghan says

      I just finished this and it’s delicious!!

    • Cathy Roma says

      Yay!! So happy to hear!!

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