Jim Franco Photo by: Jim Franco

Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese

Why "ultimate" mac n' cheese? Because the sauce in this recipe is creamy, not grainy; it's flavored with shallots, gruyère, and white wine, like fondue; and it's topped with crunchy sourdough bread crumbs.


Sunset JANUARY 2007

  • Yield: Makes 6 servings
  • Total:50 Minutes


  • 8 ounces cavatappi, macaroni, or other tube-shaped pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for cooking pasta
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 7 ounces gruyère, grated
  • 3 ounces aged gouda, grated (see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. minced fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 ounces crusty sourdough bread (about 1/4 loaf), torn into large pieces


1. Preheat oven to 400°. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling, well-salted water until tender to the bite, 7 to 12 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.

2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbsp. butter. Add shallots and cook until light golden, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle shallot-butter mixture with flour; cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Add wine and stir, picking up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add cream and stir well. Sprinkle in cheeses, one large handful at a time, stirring until each handful is mostly melted before adding the next. Stir in 2 tbsp. chives, mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. Stir cooked pasta into cheese mixture, then pour all into a 2-qt. baking dish.

3. In a food processor, pulse bread with remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. butter, 1 tsp. chives, and 1/4 tsp. salt until coarse bread crumbs form. Sprinkle bread crumbs over pasta and cheese and bake until top is browned and cheese is bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.


You can substitute romano, goat gouda, or more gruyère for the aged gouda.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 586
  • Calories from fat: 49%
  • Protein: 21g
  • Fat: 32g
  • Saturated fat: 19g
  • Carbohydrate: 44g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Sodium: 739mg
  • Cholesterol: 107mg

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Ultimate Mac 'n' Cheese recipe