I have three words for you: ultimate comfort food.
Cover anything in cheese, and I’m generally a really happy mouse. The more cheese, the better. Eight cheeses? Now that’s my idea of heaven on earth.
Now, this is not haute cuisine (though if you tried, I suppose you could call this a sort of White Baked Ziti, or some such).
This is curl-up-on-the-couch-and-watch-a-movie-on-a-snowy-night-then-fall-asleep-happy cuisine. Which these days, is just our style.
This stick-to-your ribs, baked macaroni and cheese is made with veloute sauce, which is a basically a bechamel made with chicken stock instead of milk. (If you’ve ever wondered how to make a roux, read on…)
You can use any noodles you want. I like rotini, since all those nooks and crannies in the noodles really give the sauce something to stick to.
For some reason, I’ve never liked buttered breadcrumbs on top of my mac ‘n cheese. Go figure. If you do, though, you can certainly add them before baking. You could also toss in a little leftover roasted chicken.
So, bring on the carb coma. You certainly don’t want it often, but when you’re in the mood to overdose on cheese-y starchy goodness, these noodles do the job.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: A note on your casserole dish
You can bake this recipe in any kind of ovenproof casserole dish you have. Your choice should be all about how much browned cheese crust you want on your finished mac ‘n cheese.
The more you want, the larger dish you should use (so you have more surface area for the cheese topping to brown). If you want to keep the crust to a minimum, use a deeper bowl that’s not very wide.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: A note on the cheese
I used a shredded blend of six Italian cheeses (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, asiago, fontina, and romano)â€”topped with smoked gouda, American cheese, and more shredded mozzarella.
The gouda adds a wonderful smokey note, and the American cheese melts down into the noodles to add an extra level of creamy, gooey-ness to the sauce.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese
1 lb. rotini (or other noodle)
2 Tbls. butter
2 Tbls. flour
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 cups shredded 6-cheese Italian cheese blend (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, asiago, fontina, and romano)
For the topping (use enough to blanket the top of your casserole)
Sliced American cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put a stock pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Cook the pasta
When your water comes up to a boil, add the pasta. Toss in a little kosher salt to taste.
Give the pasta a stir and let it boil over high heat until it’s cooked to your liking. In the meantime, put together the cheese sauce.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Make the base for the cheese sauce
Start by making a roux (a.k.a. flour cooked with butter that forms a base to thicken your sauce).
Set a medium-sized sauce pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and melt it.
When the butter has totally melted, toss in the flour.
Whisk the flour and butter together rapidly. At first, it will be pasty and full of lumps. Keep whisking.
After the butter and flour come together, the mixture will start to smooth out. Keep whisking.
After a minute or so, your roux should be bubbling happily, like this:
Let it cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Whisk occasionally.
Your goal here is to make a light (or white) roux.
That means that you want to cook the raw taste of the flour out of it, but stop before starts to change colors and get brown. (For more info, check out this excellent discussion of the different types of roux.)
Add the chicken stock. Whisk together to blend the roux into the stock. Raise the heat to high to bring the sauce up to a boil.
Add the garlic powder, white pepper, and parsley. Whisk to combine, then whisk occasionally until it comes to a boil.
When it comes to a boil, lower the heat to medium-high. Whisk frequently, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until it’s thickened slightly. If you taste it, it should taste buttery and chicken-y, and not at all like raw flour.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Check on your pasta
By now, it’s likely that your pasta is cooked. When it is, drain it and put it back in the pot you cooked it in. Set it aside while you finish your sauce.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Finish the sauce
When your base sauce has thickened, add the cheese in two batches to help ensure it melts easily and evenly.
Add 1 cup of shredded cheese.
Whisk to combine and melt the cheese.
After 1 cup of cheese, your sauce will be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Add the other cup of cheese and whisk to combine and melt it. Your sauce will be considerably thicker and cheesier.
At this point, taste the sauce. Toss in more kosher salt or pepper (or anything else) now if you think it needs it.
When you’re happy with it, pour the sauce over the cooked noodles.
Stir to coat the noodles well.
8-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese: Assemble and bake
Pour the cheese-y noodles into your prepared baking dish.
Spread the noodles out evenly.
Top with pieces of sliced gouda and American cheese, then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Use enough to cover the noodles. How much you add is completely up to you.
Sprinkle with a little parsley and kosher salt to taste.
Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size dish you used), until the cheese is melted and brown.
Keep an eye on it as it bakes. You want the cheese on top to brown a little, but you don’t want to leave it in so long that the noodles on the edges get hard and crisp.
I yanked mine out after 20 minutes, when it looked like this:
Serve hot and enjoy!