I’ve posted a couple other macaroni and cheese recipes. The most recent one, with roasted garlic and white truffle oil, was a delicious and modern recipe. The first one was an easy and adaptable recipe that was tasty, but lacked the oomph of the other two recipes. This recipe stands on its own. With white cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano and goat cheese, how could it not? Sour cream and an egg yolk make this dish especially rich, while lemon zest (yes, you read that right) gives it a wonderful brightness I’ve never tasted in macaroni and cheese. The addition of fresh thyme, my favorite herb, gives the mac and cheese a wonderful aroma and flavor. The sweet onion is a welcome addition and adds texture to the pasta. Decadent is the best way to describe this dish, and I promise you will savor every bite of it. If you only ever make one recipe from my blog, I hope it’s this one. I know that’s a serious request, but this is easily one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
This dish pairs well with a crisp white wine and just about any type of beer. Yum.
Heat oven to 400º. Butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring heavy cream, onion and garlic to a simmer. Transfer ½ cup of the cream to a medium bowl and gradually whisk in flour; return mixture to saucepan. Set the bowl aside and continue whisking over moderate heat until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the goat cheese, cheddar and half of the Parmesan until melted. Stir in the sour cream, zest and 1 teaspoon of thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Place the egg yolk in the medium bowl and gradually whisk in ½ cup cheese sauce. Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and toss to coat evenly. Add pasta to cast-iron skillet and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining thyme. Allow mac and cheese to rest for about 5 minutes (if you can stand it), then serve.
Adapted from Food and Wine, September 2010