Macaroni and cheese is the epitome of comfort food. It's not so bad out of the box, but nothing beats homemade. Sharp white cheddar, Roth Käse Buttermilk Blue Cheese, rosemary and black mission figs make this a deeply flavorful version fit for a special occasion. This dish is decadently rich. Serve it with crusty bread, a simple salad, and a glass of white burgundy for a delicious dinner.
This recipe calls for quite a bit of blue cheese, but the flavors come together perfectly and the cheese melts beautifully into the sauce. Just be sure to go easy on the salt as you are cooking. I usually don't like breadcrumb toppings on baked macaroni and cheese, so I developed this recipe without it. Feel free to add in this step if you desire.
Macaroni and Blue Cheese with Figs and Rosemary
Serves 8 to 10 people
1 lb pasta (I used pipe rigate, but rigatoni or rotini would work well too)
10 Tbl butter, divided
1 1/4 C dried black mission figs, diced
1 1/4 Tbl fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 C flour
3 C whole milk
2 C heavy cream
1/8 tsp nutmeg, ground
12 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
6 oz. blue cheese, crumbled and divided
salt and fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F.
Grease a two-quart baking pan with one tablespoon butter and set aside.
Bring salted water to a boil in a six-quart pot. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain well and add the pasta to the baking dish. Toss with two tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
In a six-quart pot, melt the remaining seven tablespoons of butter of medium heat along with the onions, figs, and rosemary. Cook until the onion is soft, about six minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook an additional two minutes. Whisk in the milk and cream, and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, while whisking, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fairly thick.
Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in an 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, and the 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg. Quickly mix in the cheddar and the 3/4 of the blue cheese. (I find it is helpful to work in batches.)
When the mixture is smooth, pour it over the pasta. Use a wooden spoon to gently mix the pasta and sauce together. Dot the top of the dish with the remaining blue cheese and a bit of salt and pepper.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and slightly browned.
Disclosure: I was asked to develop this recipe for the second annual "30 Days, 30 Ways" Mac and Cheese event hosted by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. I received compensation for my participation.