Bobby Flay's Upscale Mac 'n Cheese

Nothing says comfort food like mac n' cheese. Whether your mom made it from a box or she whipped up her own recipe, there aren't many people out there who don't have some sort of childhood memory of it.

Unfortunately, it is often considered a low-end food, not worthy of gourmet consideration.

But Bobby Flay, our resident chef, is here to dispel all of that. He says that there are all sorts of gourmet, high-end ways to serve everyone's favorite entrée.

He's preparing a recipe that won him a "Throwdown" competition almost a year ago. His famous Throwdown Macaroni and Cheese Cabonara recipe took down Delilah Winder, a famous soul food chef in Philadelphia. It has an "almost béchamel" sauce and is served baked with pancetta.

He is also sharing the recipes for Pasta with Four Cheeses and Roasted Garlic and Penne Ala Vodka Macaroni and Cheese.



Throwdown Macaroni & Cheese Carbonara

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1-inch thick piece pancetta, cut into small dice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 to 7 cups whole milk, heated
4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese, plus more for the top
1 1/2 cups Irish white Cheddar, plus more for the top
1 1/2 cups Mountain Valley Cheddar, plus more for the top
1 cup grated Fontina cheese, plus more for the top
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for the top
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a large baking pan and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
2. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until lightly golden brown. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in 5 cups of the hot milk, increase the heat to high and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs until incorporated and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme and all of the cheese until completely melted, season with salt and pepper. If the mixture appears too thick, add some of the remaining milk ¼ cup at a time. Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, reserved pancetta and parsley and stir until combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Combine together additional fontina, cheddar, asiago and parmesan in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the macaroni. Bake in the oven until heated through and the top is lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Penne Al a Vodka Macaroni & Cheese

Serves: 6

Vodka Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
Pinch of red chile flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup vodka
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, crushed
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound pasta, slightly under al dente
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
Fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the oil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and chile flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, and cook until soft and the mixture has thickened. Add the heavy cream and cook for 1 minute. Add the parsley and basil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Place the cooked pasta in a large bowl, add the sauce and the parmesan cheese and mix until combined. Transfer to a large baking dish and place the cheese evenly over the top. Place in the oven and cook until warmed through and the mozzarella melts, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with basil leaves.

Pasta with Four Cheeses and Roasted Garlic

Serves: 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
¾ cups whole milk
¾ cups heavy cream
8 cloves roasted garlic, pureed
1 cup grated fontina cheese
¾ cup crumbled Gorgonzola
½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons Romano cheese
¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 pound penne pasta, cooked slightly under al dente
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the milk and cream, bring to a boil and cook until thickened, whisking constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the roasted garlic puree all of the cheese (except the 2 tablespoons of the parmesan and the Romano) and season with salt and pepper.
2. Place the penne in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, thyme and parsley and stir to combine. Scrape the mixture into a large baking dish. Combine the breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons of parmesan and 2 tablespoons of Romano and evenly sprinkle the mixture over the top of the penne. Bake until heated through and the top is lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.
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