This is a special mixture of cheese combinations and infused flavors melting together to create a creamy and deep mac & cheese. I love making this as a comfort meal in the winter or those chilly Fall nights.
Mac & Cheese
1 hour 15 minutes
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon whole pink peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon wasabi powder
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1-1/2 cups Speziato al Tartufo cheese, shredded
- 1-1/2 cheddar, aged 4 years & shredded
- 3/4 cup Tavoliere cheese, (Italian table cheese) - shredded
- 3/4 Gouda cheese, shredded
- 2 cups pasta shells
Cheese Sauce Base
In a medium saucepan add heavy cream, buttermilk, onion, cloves, garlic, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaf, ginger, cumin, wasabi powder, and pinch of salt & pepper. Cook on medium-high for 2 minutes, until mixture begins to boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350o
Boil water to cook the pasta until al dente, approximately 5 minutes. Drain pasta then set aside in a large bowl.
Make a roux in a large saucepan by melting 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Strain cream mixture into roux. Cook on medium stirring until thickened. Remove cream mixture from heat then add all but 1 cup of cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
Assemble & Bake
Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Pour entire mixture into a baking or casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Melt 2 tablespoons butter then mix with breadcrumbs and Old Bay Seasoning. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle wheat germ over breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes.