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Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese

Photo: Marcus Nilsson
Active time 40 mins
Total time 1 hr, 35 mins
Yield 6
At Slows Bar BQ, Brian Perrone makes his mac and cheese using just cheddar, but its flavor is so rich that customers often assume he uses several cheeses. That inspired Perrone to create this decadent version, which includes cheddar, Muenster, Swiss and just a touch of cream cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 10 ounces (3 cups) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) Muenster cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces (3/4 cup) Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Butter, for the dish
  • 1 pound (medium) pasta shells

How to Make It

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until translucent, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in the flour to make a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer, whisking, until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until no floury taste remains, 7 minutes. Add the celery seeds, mace, Tabasco and cayenne. Stir in the cheeses just until they melt. Remove from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

  2. Butter a large, shallow baking dish. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta shells until almost al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared dish and let stand for 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°. Bake the pasta in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes, until it's bubbling and starting to brown. Turn the broiler on and broil the pasta for about 1 minute, until it's browned and crisp on top. Let the mac and cheese rest for 10 minutes before serving.