Cheesemonger's Mac and Cheese
Cheddar, Gruyère, and Brie help push this over the top. Use local, artisan-style cheeses, if you can.
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère cheese
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups diced rindless Brie (cut from 1-pound wedge)
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon (scant) nutmeg
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 8 teaspoons whipping cream (if making 1 day ahead)
Adapted from epicurious.com
Mix all cheeses. Set aside 1 cup for topping; cover and chill. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir until mixture turns golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add thyme and nutmeg. Gradually whisk in milk. Simmer until thickened and smooth, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add cheeses from large bowl. Stir until melted and smooth.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs; toss. Stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender but firm to bite. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Pour cheese sauce over; toss. Divide among eight 1 1/4-cup custard cups. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Place cups on rimmed baking sheet. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil; chill. Drizzle each with 1 teaspoon cream. Cover with foil; bake 15 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle partially baked chilled or just assembled cups with breadcrumbs. Bake pasta until beginning to bubble and tops are golden, about 20 minutes.