Over the Top Mac and Cheese
by Celebrity Pastry Chef Slade Grove

I will admit this recipe is a little work and you’ll use a few pans in the process but the trouble and the pan mess is well worth the work. This will be an amazing dish that you’ll want to share with your friends and family or that one special person with a nice bottle of wine.

A while back I was wandering around my local gourmet food store and I noticed a pasta that I hadn’t seen before and thought wow! what a great “shell” for a mac and cheese dish.  It reminded me of a little bowl perfect to hold some gooey goodness of a beautifully craft cheese sauce with some a hint of caramelized onions. After googling the name of the pasta, I discovered it’s actually fashioned after a little ear and wasn’t a “shell.” But oh well… it’s perfect for this recipe.

The pasta that I discovered is called Orecchiette, which according to Wikapedia: Orecchiette (singular: orecchietta) is a kind of home-made pasta typical of Puglia or Apulia, a region of Southern Italy. Its name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear. In Southern Italy, women sit outdoors in the spring and make the dough into small cylinders, which they cut into little cubes. Then they press down each cube with their right thumb, dragging it on the board, thus making it curl slightly [at this stage you have a ‘strascinata’]. Then they insert their thumb on the reverse side, making it pop out with a little convex bulge.

I will admit this recipe is a little work and you’ll use a few pans in the process but the trouble and the pan mess is well worth the work. This will be an amazing dish that you’ll want to share with your friends and family or that one special person in front of the fireplace with a nice bottle of wine.

Enough technical stuff, it’s get this dish on the cook top and have some amazing mac and cheese.

AuthorSlade

Over the Top Mac and Cheese by Slade Grove

Yields1 Serving

 4 cups dried orecchiette pasta (check your local gourmet store, if not use pasta shells)
 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for frying
 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
 1 large Vidalia sweet onion, coarsely chopped
 Kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning
 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
 ¼ cup rice flour
 1 cup all-purpose flour
 5 cups whole milk
 ½ cup shredded Fontina cheese
 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
 ½ cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
 1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
 1 teaspoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1

Bring a stockpot full of salted water to a boil (note: don’t be shy on the salt… I use kosher salt for this and you want the water to taste like sea water), add the orecchiette and cook until just al dente (tender to the tooth, yet still a little firm), about 10 minutes. Strain the pasta, toss with the EVOO and set aside.

2

In large saucepan set over medium heat, add the tablespoon of canola oil, 2 tablespoons of the butter and the onion. Cook until the onion is caramelized and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the onions in a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.

3

In a medium bowl, toss the shallot slices with the rice flour. Shake the excess rice flour out of the bowl. In a medium saucepan, add enough canola oil to come 2 inches up the side. Heat the oil to ripple (about 320 degrees F). Add the shallot slices to the oil and fry until they’re a light golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the shallots on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan and season with salt and pepper.

4

Time to make the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven (my favorite for this type of dish is a Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven) set over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 sticks of butter. Add the all-purpose flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and light brown in color, about 10 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick, about 20 minutes. Add the Fontina, Parmesan, cheddar and reserved onion purée. Whisk until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the pasta, chives and parsley. Garnish with the fried shallots and serve immediately.

5

Enjoy this amazing dish with your friends, family, or that special person in your life.

Ingredients

 4 cups dried orecchiette pasta (check your local gourmet store, if not use pasta shells)
 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for frying
 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
 1 large Vidalia sweet onion, coarsely chopped
 Kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning
 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
 ¼ cup rice flour
 1 cup all-purpose flour
 5 cups whole milk
 ½ cup shredded Fontina cheese
 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
 ½ cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
 1 teaspoon chives, finely chopped
 1 teaspoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Directions

1

Bring a stockpot full of salted water to a boil (note: don’t be shy on the salt… I use kosher salt for this and you want the water to taste like sea water), add the orecchiette and cook until just al dente (tender to the tooth, yet still a little firm), about 10 minutes. Strain the pasta, toss with the EVOO and set aside.

2

In large saucepan set over medium heat, add the tablespoon of canola oil, 2 tablespoons of the butter and the onion. Cook until the onion is caramelized and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the onions in a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.

3

In a medium bowl, toss the shallot slices with the rice flour. Shake the excess rice flour out of the bowl. In a medium saucepan, add enough canola oil to come 2 inches up the side. Heat the oil to ripple (about 320 degrees F). Add the shallot slices to the oil and fry until they’re a light golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the shallots on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan and season with salt and pepper.

4

Time to make the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven (my favorite for this type of dish is a Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven) set over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 sticks of butter. Add the all-purpose flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and light brown in color, about 10 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick, about 20 minutes. Add the Fontina, Parmesan, cheddar and reserved onion purée. Whisk until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the pasta, chives and parsley. Garnish with the fried shallots and serve immediately.

5

Enjoy this amazing dish with your friends, family, or that special person in your life.

Over the Top Mac & Cheese by Slade Grove