As you know, I’m a mac and cheese aficionado. If it was an Iron Chef theme, I’d be up there at the table beside Jeffrey Steingarten. But the thing about passions is that you can never be content. I mean, once Beethoven wrote his Moonlight Sonata, did he just stop composing?
So it was a few weeks ago when Cate of TriBeCa Yummy Mummy posted her mac and cheese recipe that I was prodded to make a batch with my own spin. I’ve made it twice since and I can say that it’s pretty close to being my favorite. The Panera version is up there too though; I declared it the best in this same space. What can i say, it’s like choosing a favorite child.
Rigatoni with Gouda, Peas and Pancetta
1 pound rigatoni, cooked per package directions
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
12-14 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
12-14 ounces smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
panko bread crumbs
2-4 ounces of hard cheese of your liking (parmigiano, asiago, pecorino, etc.), grated or slivered with a veggie peeler
1 package frozen green peas
whatever amount of cubed pancetta floats your boat. I use a package of this:
Heat oven to 350 degrees and butter a casserole dish of your choosing. Cook pasta. Heat milk and cream in the biggest sauce pot you have (it will serve as a mixing bowl later). Add the gouda and cheddar and stir until they’re pretty melted, but don’t bother making a homogenous sauce because it’s going in the oven anyway. Add the peas a little at a time – since they’re cold they’ll make your cheese mixture get gloppy if you add them all at once. Add the pancetta, then the cooked noodles and mix well. Pour into the casserole dish and top with panko bread crumbs and slivers of hard cheeses. Bake until bubbly.