Ultimate Mac & Cheese

Yields 6 portions

1 lb penne pasta
2 large shallots rough chop
2 cloves minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
piece of bay leaf
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 qt heavy cream
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
pound of cubed smoked ham or turkey
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
cup panko
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste

In medium sauce pot saut over high heat shallots, garlic and thyme in 1 tablespoon of butter for 2 minutes
Add chicken stock, bay leaf and bring to boil
Reduce to simmer and cook until reduced by half
Add heavy cream and simmer till thickened (coats back of spoon)
While sauce is reducing, bring to boil in large pot, 3 quarts salted water with 1 tablespoon olive oil
Add pasta and cook for 6 mins or until al dente
Strain pasta and toss with remaining olive oil and reserve
Pour finished sauce through fine strainer into clean pot and season with nutmeg
Return sauce to stove, Add cheddar cheese and half of parmesan cheese.
Whisk sauce over low heat until cheese has melted
Season with salt and pepper if needed
Combine pasta, sauce, ham and fresh Italian parsley in large bowl and toss well
Pour into baking dish and cover with Panko and remaining parmesan
Bake in oven at 350 till golden brown

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