First of all, how cute is that little personal sized Le Creuset Mini Cocette dish? I found these adorable little guys in a set of four at the Le Creuset outlet store, which is one of my favorite places to shop for kitchenware because they sell the same stuff that is still full price in big name stores...its just on sale. This is where I build my collection. I actually bought them as a gift...opened them and fell in love and then had to run back and buy another set for the gift giving (I'm bad I know). My mom, sister and I have a rule of gift-giving and it is this: you should never buy something for someone else that you wouldn't love to have for yourself (unless they specifically ask for it). The problem with that rule is that sometimes your going to find yourself buying two of each gift....one for you, one for me mentality. Is that really a problem though? (My husband is not eligible to answer this question) Moving on....
This dish is ridiculous. I thought I should preface with that. This is not your kids mac and cheese, although they will dive right in and love every second of it. This is a decadent, sinfully delicious, utterly divine mac and cheese that is fancy and all grown-up. You could serve this to the President of France (where all the best food in the world comes from) and he would be in heaven... Ladies and Gentleman, start your stove-tops!
1/4 medium yellow onion
1/4 cup pancetta, cooked until crispy
2-3 cups dry elbow macaroni pasta (other pasta options: Cavatappi, Shells, Ziti, Fusilli, Rigatoni)
3 Tbsp cup butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 lb Shredded fontina
1/4 lb Shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp goat cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch of granulated garlic
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Melt a little butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add in shrimp with some salt and pepper. Saute until cooked through; set aside. Cut your onion in half, and cut onion into very thin slices creating "half moons". Separate the slivers from one another and toss into skillet with a little more butter. Saute onions over low-medium heat until they are translucent and tender. They will pick up a lot of color from the shrimp tidbits left in the pan. Color = Flavor. Finally, and without extra butter, cook your pancetta in the skillet until the pieces are brown and starting to get slightly crispy on the edges; set aside.
Boil pasta until al dente, drain, rinse with cool water and set aside. Melt butter in a sauce pan over low-medium heat, whisk in flour until fully incorporated to create a roux. Whisk continuously until the roux starts to brown just a bit (3-4 minutes) slowly whisk in milk making a point to work out any lumps. Continue to whisk until it thickens to the consistency of gravy. Add in the fontina, cheddar cheese and goat cheese. Stir until all of the cheese is melted. Add the salt, pepper and garlic. Taste the cheese sauce and add more salt and pepper to taste. If the mixture gets too thick you can always add in a little extra milk to thin it out. Add in pasta** one cup at a time and mix well until you reach your desired ratio of cheese sauce to pasta. Mix in the shrimp, onions and pancetta, pour into a casserole dish. Feel free to top with a little Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 10
**This recipe doesn't have an exact amount of pasta but rather an approximation in order to give you the opportunity to choose the consistency of your mac and cheese.
Feel free to make this recipe your own. You could add in some sun-dried tomatoes and some brocollini or you could add in other kinds of seafood such as scallops. Let me know if you come up with anything outrageous that I must try!!