Cheddar & Gouda Mac and Cheese
Caramelized onions, bacon and a combo of Imported Cheddar and Gouda cheeses make for an ultra creamy and oh-sooo decadent mac & cheese.
- 8 oz (1/2 pound) pasta, such as medium shells or pipettes
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 4 oz bacon, diced
- 1 onion, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cup cups whole milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 cup Imported Gouda, shredded
- 1 1/2 cup Imported Cheddar, plus 1/4 cup, shredded
- kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
- chopped parsley or chives for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in middle position. Butter a 2-quart baking dish, or six, 10-ounce ramekins. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.
Mix Panko, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1/4 cup Cheddar, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cook pasta to "al-dente" in a large pot of salted boiling water. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before draining well.
While bringing the pasta water to a boil, cook bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until fat is rendered and bacon is beginning to crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the pan and heat until foaming subsides. Add onions and 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper to the pot. Cook until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and continue cooking, stirring often, until onions are very soft and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes longer.
Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add milk and half and half, stirring until sauce is smooth and thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in Gouda and remaining 1-1/2 cups Cheddar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add cooked pasta to the cheese sauce, stirring until well combined. If needed, stir in enough pasta water to make the sauce creamy, but not thin and watery (start with about 1/4 cup).
Transfer pasta to prepared baking dish and top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and breadcrumbs are toasted. Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley or chives, if desired.