I made this macaroni and cheese a few weeks ago with the intention of sharing it with you. Unfortunately right before I wrote this post, I was convinced I had lost the recipe. I was in a panic. “What was the secret ingredient? Could I recreate it?”
Keegan thought I should make it again to retrace my steps.
(He’s very crafty.)
Lucky for both of us (but not Keegan), I was able to find it.
Now, you can make it for your family (or yourself). But, be warned. Everyone will want you to make it more than once. Because of the pancetta. And the cheese.
I used the famous Martha Stewart recipe as a guide, but added some of my favorite flavor combinations. Crispy pancetta is accented with sweet peas. Garlic and butter punch up bread crumbs, while smoked paprika pulls it all together in the background.
Mac and Cheese with Pancetta and Peas
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/8 tsp. minced or finely grated garlic
3 tbsp. butter, divided
3 c. baguette, cubed
2 3/4 c. whole milk
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
1 3/4 c. cheddar, grated (divided)
1 c. gruyere, grated (divided)
1/2 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (divided)
1/2 lb. whole wheat macaroni
1/4 c. frozen peas
4 oz. pancetta chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and spray a 9×9, glass casserole dish.
2. Make the breadcrumbs. Next, add the cubed baguette to a medium bowl. In a small, microwave safe bowl, melt 1 tbsp. of butter with the garlic. Do this is in short 5 second bursts. It won’t take long at all. Then, pour the garlic butter over the bread and add the parsley. Stir until evenly combined. Set aside.
3. Boil the pasta. In large pan, bring water to a boil. When ready, add the macaroni and cook until just tender. Drain and set aside. It should have a little bite to it, because it will continue to cook a bit in the oven.
4. Make the cheese sauce, while the noodles are cooking. In a separate pan, heat the milk. The goal is to warm it, so keep the heat low. You do not want to scald the milk.
While the milk is warming, heat 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil in a separate sauce pan. When hot, add the pancetta, stirring occasionally. Once crisp, remove and drain on paper towels. To the same pan, add 2 tbsp. of butter. When it bubbles, whisk in the flour. Cook for a minute and then, slowly whisk in the milk.
Once thickened, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1 1/2 c. cheddar, 3/4 c. gruyere and 1/4 c. Parmigiano Reggiano until smooth. Add the smoked paprika and freshly cracked black pepper.
5. Assemble the mac and cheese. Gently mix the pasta, cheese sauce, frozen peas and pancetta together until incorporated. Then, pour the mixture into a dish and spread evenly. Top evenly with 1/4 of each of the cheeses. Next, top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.