Decadent is the only word to describe this top-rated mac 'n' cheese of John's City Diner in Birmingham. The smoked gouda adds marvelous flavor, but you can substitute regular gouda.
1 cup Japanese breadcrumbs (panko)
1 (4-oz.) package thinly sliced prosciutto
1 (16-oz.) package penne pasta
1/2 cup butter
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups whipping cream
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 (10-oz.) blocks sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded smoked Gouda
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 400°. Bake breadcrumbs in a single layer on a baking sheet 5 to 7 minutes or until golden, stirring once after 2 1/2 minutes.
Cook prosciutto, in batches, in a lightly greased large skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until crisp. Drain on paper towels; crumble.
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add shallot, and sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add wine, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of Dutch oven, and cook 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and next 4 ingredients; cook, whisking constantly, 12 to 14 minutes or until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Place 4 cups (16 oz.) Cheddar cheese in a large heatproof bowl. Reserve remaining Cheddar cheese for another use. Add Gouda and Parmesan cheeses to bowl.
Gradually pour white sauce over cheeses, whisking until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth.
Stir in pasta and prosciutto until blended. Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Serve immediately.
Note: For testing purposes only, we used Fiorucci Riserva Prosciutto and Cracker Barrel Vermont White Sharp Cheddar.
No-Bake Not Yo' Mama's Mac 'n' Cheese: Omit breadcrumbs. Prepare recipe as directed in Steps 2 through Stir pasta, prosciutto, and cheeses into white sauce. Serve immediately.
Note: Don't use preshredded cheese; it doesn't melt as smoothly. You can shred the cheese and crisp the prosciutto up to one day ahead and chill. You can also toast the breadcrumbs ahead and store them in a zip-top plastic bag.