How to make gourmet macaroni and cheese

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Mac and cheese is more than good old fashioned comfort food when it's made by four star chef and self described "cheese head" Terrance Brennan. Here's how he elevates macaroni and cheese to gourmet dining.

How to make gourmet macaroni and cheese

Macaroni

  1. Bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil and add the elbow macaroni. Cook until it’s al dente, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.

Cheese Sauce - Part 1

  1. While the macaroni is boiling, slowly melt 5 1/2 Tbs of butter over medium high heat in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Add the flour, stirring, cook together for a minute or so. Do not brown the mixture; you want a blonde roux.
  3. Add the milk, whisking to avoid lumps. Bring mixture to a boil and continue whisking.
  4. Lower heat and simmer for about five minutes until it thickens.


Bread Crumb Topping

  1. While the milk is simmering, combine 2 Tbs butter and the bread crumbs, and melt together in a a separate pan.
  2. Add the Parmesan Reggiano cheese. This adds another layer of flavor so it’s not one-dimensional. Just cook until the butter is melted.
  3. Remove from heat.


Cheese Sauce- Part 2

  1. When the milk is ready, add the mascarpone cheese. Marscarpone is an Italian fresh creamy cheese, but it isn’t cream cheese. It is a dense, rich and slightly sweet fresh cheese. It adds another layer of flavor, and richness. It makes the saucer creamy, rich and yummy.
  2. Then add gruyere cheese and whisk it in, and as soon as until it’s melted, remove from the heat. This will happen quickly because the gruyere cheese should be grated and at room temperature.
  3. Season with salt and black pepper and whisk to combine. Normally you don’t use black pepper with a white sauce, but Terrance Brennan loves the robust flavor and does not mind the black specks in the white sauce.

Assemble The Gourmet Macaroni And Cheese

  1. When the macaroni is cooked, strain it, making sure to shake out all the water. Excess water will dilute the cheese sauce and make the macaroni too runny.
  2. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce, mix it well, and when it’s nicely incorporated, spoon it out into a cooking dish. This recipe makes two main courses or four side dishes.
  3. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on the top, using your hands to pat it down to make sure it’s nice and evenly dispersed all over the surface. The topping becomes very crunchy when it bakes.


Cook for about 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven until golden brown and bubbly.
You want a golden crust with bubbly sauce on the sides.

Transcript Hi I’m chef Terrence Brennan for howdini.com I’m the chef and owner of Artesional  restaurant here in New York City, and I’m going to show you how to make the best macaroni and cheese. Lets go over our ingredients for our mac and cheese.

We’ll start with three quarter cups of bread crumbs, one quarter cup of parmesan Romano, five and a half tablespoons of butter, one quarter cup plus two tablespoons of flour, three cups of milk, two and a quarter cups of grated cheese, a half a cup of mascarpone cheese, one and one half cups of elbow macaroni, and then salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning.

Okay, lets make mac and cheese. I have two quarts of salted boiling water and I have the dry macaroni and we’re going to cook that till al dente. Approximately six to eight minutes then we’re going to make a cheese sauce. So I’m going to take the butter and slowly melt this, melt the butter over a medium high heat. Now I’m going to add the flour, we’re just going to cook that together for a minute or so. You don’t want to add any color to this you want to keep what is called blonde rue.

All right this looks good, now I am going to add the milk. We’re just going to whisk that in, we don’t want it to be lumpy at all, we want it boiling and we use a whisk and this will prevent it from being lumpy. So we’re going to cook this for about five minutes so it thickens up a little bit. Then we’ll add the rest of our ingredients. So while our milk is simmering I’m going to make the breadcrumb topping. Two tablespoons of butter, the breadcrumbs, and we’ll melt this together which just adds some moisture to the breadcrumbs and it really helps to produce the golden brown crust when you bake it. To this I’m going to add Parmesan Romano cheese. I do this to add another dimension, another layer of flavor for the mac and cheese. So it just not one dimension. This topping is very crunchy when it bakes. Just until like the butter melts, we don’t want any color on this.

Okay, so now the milk is ready. I’m going to add mascarpone cheese, like an Italian fresh cream cheese, just a very rich fresh cheese. And what this does it add a little more richness to it. Again I want to add a couple layers of flavor, and this just make it very creamy and rich. Now I’m going to add the Grier cheese and whisk that in. As soon as it is melted we can take this off the fire. It’s going to melt very quickly cause cheese at room temperature and grated. Now I add a little salt and pepper. I’m using black, normally I don’t use black pepper in a white sauce, but I jus love the flavor of black pepper with mac and cheese. It really adds a robust flavor that I like that combination with the cheese. So I don’t mind the black specs in it. Whisk that in, my breadcrumbs are ready, smells terrific. I love the smell of toasted Parmesan cheese.

Okay, the macaroni is cooked and we’re going to strain it. Make sure you shake it really well, we don’t want any excess water in there cause that will dilute the cheese sauce and make the cheese sauce too runny. Now I’m going to add the macaroni to the cheese sauce. So we’re going to mix this well and once it is nicely incorporated we’re going to spoon it out onto our cooking dish. And these are some enamored cast-iron pans. This recipe makes two main courses, or four side dishes. Now I like to eat it as a side dish because it is very rich, but your children may want to eat the whole thing as a main course.

Now we are going to sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Make sure it is dispersed evenly, and again use your hands. Now pat this down to make sure it is nice and even. Okay, now we are going to place them into a three hundred-fifty degree oven for about thirty-five forty minutes so it gets nice and golden brown and bubbly.

Okay, lets check on our mac and cheese. Ahh, perfect, look at that. This is exactly what we want, we want a golden crust and a bubbly outside. That’s going to be nice and moist and cheesy, not too runny and not too dry. These are just absolutely perfect; this is exactly what you want. Oh gosh, and they smell terrific. This is Terrence Brennan with howdini.com
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  • Terrance Brennan

    Terrance Brennan Celebrity Chef Terrance Brennan is the Chef-Proprietor of Picholine Restaurant and Artisanal Bistro and Wine Bar and the founder of Artisanal Premium Cheese, a wholesale and online gourmet cheese company and education center. more about this expert »

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