As I was reading for First Amendment (which, incidentally, is the weirdest area of law I have so far encountered in my studies), I was day dreaming about what to make for lunch. And like a bolt of lightning, it hit me – I hadn’t made mac and cheese in a good long time. Especially not the baked variety. And, because I am a cheese monster, I knew I had all of the ingredients necessary to make a pretty bad ass version on hand.
The combination of flavors in this particular mac and cheese is really stellar. The Jarlsberg has a pungent sharpness, the ricotta a straightforward creaminess, and the pecorino romano a sharp bite. The vegetable stock adds a rich layer of flavor – and takes the calories down several notches, which is always a plus. All of those flavors are reinforced and highlighted by the bright, sharp Dijon mustard and slightly sweet heat of the New Mexico chile powder. The sauce was extremely creamy – and had that awesome, melt-y, string-y thing going on where you grab a noodle and the cheese just oozes in beautiful, bendy strings of glory. The bottom and top of the casserole both crisped up beautifully to act as a contrast to the creamy cheese.
So if you’re looking for a slightly fancier-than-average, creamier-than-average, more-flavorful-than-average macaroni and cheese … I suggest you start shredding up some Jarlsberg.
Jarlsberg and Ricotta Mustardy Mac and Cheese
1/2 box pasta (I used penne rigate)
2 tbs. butter
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, shredded
3 tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. New Mexican chile powder
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2-3 tbs. Italian bread crumbs
Non-stick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350°.
Bring a medium sauce pan of water to a boil. When boiling, add noodles and cook two minutes less than package instructions.
As soon as you add the noodles, melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. While whisking, slowly add flour. Don’t worry if it is slightly clumpy toward the end.
Continuously whisking, add the vegetable stock. Whisk until smooth and creamy. If any liquid remains, cook until it evaporates.
Add cheese and whisk to combine into a creamy sauce. Stir in mustard and chile powder. Taste for seasonings, and add salt and pepper as necessary.
At this point, the noodles should be ready to drain. Drain noodles and then add the noodles to the cheese sauce. Stir to evenly combine.
Spray a small casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the noodles to the casserole dish. Top with the bread crumbs and spray again with nonstick.
Transfer to the oven and bake 25-30 minutes until bread crumb topping is light golden brown and the cheese sauce bubbles. Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.