Four Cheese Mac & Cheese 🧀

I’m a big fan of classic comfort food and what’s more comforting than Four Cheese Mac and Cheese? 🧀 This recipe features sharp cheddar, goat cheese, Parmesan and asiago cheeses, but you can sub with your favorite cheeses — cream cheese is great in place of goat cheese, gruyere or gouda are wonderfully nutty, mozzarella is also good but sometimes a bit bland — experiment with your favorite varieties. This dish is creamy, indulgent and perfect for a weeknight dinner. Yum!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup of AP flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic or garlic powder — 2 tsps if using fresh and make sure it’s finely minced 
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded – I prefer sharp cheddar but you can use any strength you like 
  • 1 + 2 tablespoons cup Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1 cup of goat cheese — I like to use garlic and herb flavored but plain is fine. You can also sub cream cheese
  • 1 quart of whole milk (or 4-5 cups) — it’s important that you use whole milk for this. If you only have skim milk, then the sauce might be a bit thin so you’ll need a thicker roux
  • 1-2 lbs of your favorite pasta shape

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add big pinch of salt (this will season the noodles)
  • Add the pasta and boil until al dente (about 6-7 minutes) — give it a taste and it should still be firm but a soft chew. Don’t worry if you think it’s underdone since it will cook again in the oven
  • In a large saucepan or pot over a medium flame, add the butter and melt
  • Once the butter is melted, add the flour and start to stir until the butter and flour become one homegenous almost paste-like mixture
  • Cook for at least 5-6 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds so it doesn’t burn, then add your salt and pepper
Bechamel Sauce
  • While whisking, slowly add the milk — make sure the roux is completely incorporated and a smooth white sauce (also known as a bechamel) will form. This is one of the 5 mother sauces in classic French cooking. Once we add cheese it becomes a Mornay sauce
Season, season, season
  • Once the sauce has come together, add the nutmeg, dried mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic and bring to a simmer
  • Once the sauce is continuously simmering, add the Parmesan or Romano cheese and stir well
Add all the cheeses!
  • Once the Parmesan is incorporated, start adding the rest of the cheeses a handful at a time and stirring to incorporate each time — don’t add a new handful until the precious one has melted into the sauce
Bechamel becomes Mornay sauce!
  • Once the last of the cheese has been melted into the sauce, let it cook for another few minutes as it settles then turn the heat off
Add the pasta
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir so every noodle is coated in cheesy goodness— resist the urge to eat the whole pot! 😉 
Cheesy goodness!
  • Add the cheese noodles to a greased 13×9 dish and flatten with your stirring spoon
Ready to Bake!
  • Mix the remaining Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sprinkle all over the top of the mac and cheese dish
  • Bake at 375 for at 25-30 minutes or until the crust gets golden brown

Enjoy with a simple green salad for a delicious midweek dinner or as a side. Yum!

Tip: want to make this dish healthier? Add some broccoli or spinach to the cheesy noodle mixture. Mmm 😋

Four Cheese Mac & Cheese

A Modern Twist on Old School French Fare

Loulay
600 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101

2015-09-20 21.14.11

2015-09-19 19.06.27It was the final day of the 2015 International Food Bloggers’ Conference in Seattle, and I was tired and hungry. I had a chance to sample some of Chef Thierry Rautureau’s dishes the night before at the Culinary Tasting and Expo and they were all delicious. Luckily, this made my dilemma on where to eat on my final night in Seattle easy, since the restaurant is attached to the Sheraton hotel downtown. Chef Thierry Rautureau, or the “Chef in the Hat” as he’s known among the Seattle food scene, focuses Loulay on recipes and dishes from his French upbringing with a modern twist, and local, seasonal ingredients.2015-09-20 21.39.14

2015-09-20 21.25.19Before my started came to the table, the chef sent out an amuse bouche, which is a fancy French term to refer to a pre-appetizer. It usually consists of a single bite, and is meant to wake up the palette before the meal really begins. That night, the chef prepared an olive and jalapeño tapenade with harissa aioli on a crispy French bread crouton. Within that single bite, there was tanginess from the briny olive, bite from the spicy jalapeno, crunch from the crouton, as well as a warm heat from the harissa, and a textural contrast between the creamy aioli and course tapenade. It definitely woke up my tastebuds!

2015-09-20 21.30.172015-09-20 21.30.24The Smoked Pork Cheeks ($19) exemplified nose to tail cooking at some of its finest. While some may consider cheek to be a throwaway item, it can be some of the most succulent meat if cooked correctly and given a little love. The meat definitely had a certain level of smokiness, and was so tender without losing all of its chew—think of a perfectly cooked short rib. The sauce was super delicious and resembled a pork demiglace flavored with sweet onion and wine. The bread basket came in handy to sop up extra broth. The charred cauliflower side was not mushy at all and, in fact, had a subtle crust that contrasted nicely with the soft meat. The dish was garnished with some shaved scallion and watermelon radish that provided much needed color and a fresh, crunch factor to the heavy starter.

2015-09-20 21.41.262015-09-20 21.41.38Up next was one of the Chef in the Hat favorites, Seared Fois Gras ($21). The fois gras was perfectly browned and caramelized on the outside, while maintaining its fatty rareness inside. It was sinfully decadent, and served atop chewy, eggy brioche, and in a small bowl of a sweet apricot puree with pine nuts for texture, and a spiced honey glaze that played nicely with the crust on the fois gras.

2015-09-20 21.56.40The dishes at Loulay are somewhat small—as is the norm with many French restaurants—so I definitely had room for dessert. Thank god, since French cuisine has some of the best desserts on the planet! I had been considering the Caramelized Pineapple Turnover, but went with the advice of my server and tried the Portuguese Beignets ($10). While beignets are mainly known in the United States as a New Orleans delicacy of fried dough covered with powdered sugar, and eaten hot, they are actually a variation of a traditional French dish of deep-fried choux pastry. Choux pastry is the base for many well-known French desserts such as profiteroles, croquembouches, éclairs or cream puffs. These beignets were so light and airy that I could have eaten a whole box of them. They were lightly sweetened and sitting on a velvety creme anglaise flavored with vanilla. To complement the hot pastry was a funky blue cheese ice cream. The ice cream was a wonderful yoyo of sweet and salty bites, and made me think of a gorgonzola dolce flavor profile. Pears that were soft and sweet in contrast to the ice cream were lightly caramelized and helped cut through the richness of the dish.

2015-09-20 21.58.24To help wash down the beignets, was another chef in the hat favorite of the Chef’s Hot Chocolate ($5). Inspired by a recipe from his grandparents, the hot chocolate was unique in that it was not very sweet, but had a very forward cocoa flavor. Alongside the drink came brioche sticks to act as dippers and salty butter. The ideal bite was to smear some butter on the toasted brioche, dip in the hot chocolate, and eat. The hot chocolate not only was absorbed by the soft bread, but also melted the butter and it changed the whole texture of the dessert as they came together. The saltiness of the butter also tied in well with the blue cheese ice cream.

Overall, the food and atmosphere at Loulay were top notch and delicious! It was a great way to wind down a supremely foodie weekend. What was also very cool was being able to pay my bill through the new feature on OpenTable that allows you to pay for your meal through the app. How convenient is that?