A Squared: What's For Dinner Wednesday: Baked Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Baked Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto

I just love mac and cheese.  It's always been one of my favorites since childhood back when we lived on the powdered orange kind.  I'm not going to lie-- I still love some Kraft macaroni and cheese when I'm under the weather.  It's the ultimate comfort food and is so easy to make that my husband can do it when I'm not feeling up to cooking.

There is something to be said however, for some really good adult mac and cheese.  The kind made with a real sauce, quality cheeses, creamy in the middle, crunchy on top.  Homemade mac and cheese is surprisingly easy to make and since it is easy enough to double or triple the recipe, you can feed a big crowd too.  I used a 2% milk rue as a base for this sauce, which keeps the fat down significantly.  You could make it really decadent and use cream or whole milk, or go even healthier with skim or 1%.  If you use lower fat milk, I might suggest adding a little more flour when you are creating the base just to make sure it gets thick enough.

The type of cheese, pasta shape, and prosciutto I used here were mainly just because it was what I had on hand that night.  You can get creative though or use this recipe as a way to clean out your fridge and mix and match.  Gruyere is one of my favorite cheeses to use in mac and cheese.  And you could always use cooked crumbled bacon in lieu of prosciutto.  Or sub in chopped cooked brocolli for a vegetarian take on it.

  • 8 oz. short cut whole wheat pasta, cooked *I used penne, but shells, elbow, or farfalle would work too
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups low fat milk *I used 2% since I had a lot leftover in my fridge
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1/3 cup 2% milk Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/8 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs *You can use crushed crackers, panko, or regular breadcrumbs here
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk consistently for about 2 minutes until combined and flour is "cooked."  Continue to whisk as you stream in the milk until combined.  Raise heat, bring milk to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until milk is thickened and reduced, whisking occasionally.  Remove from heat and add 1/2 of the Romano cheese and all of the cheddar.  Stir until cheese is fully melted and then combine with pasta and chopped prosciutto.

Lightly grease a 9x9 baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray and pour pasta mixture evenly into the dish.  Sprinkle reserved Romano cheese evenly over the top and then follow by sprinkling breadcrumbs on top of that.  Lightly spray the breadcrumbs with olive oil or cooking spray and bake for 12-15 minutes until top layer of cheese begins to melt.  Turn on your broiler and broil the mac and cheese until the breadcrumbs start to brown.  Remove from oven and serve.

Come join Mac and Cheese Mania at Rachel Cooks and Nutmeg Nanny sponsored by Door to Door Organics and OXO – Win prizes!

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