There's No Place Like Home
One gloomy, dark day last January, I was cooped up in my tiny New York apartment. Feeling completely miserable from the freezing weather and a serious case of the winter blues, I felt an undying urge to make a home-cooked meal like Mom used to make.
I decided to go on a search for comfort - Something warm. Something cozy. Something heartwarming. I was excited about this task at hand and searched through my recipes, finding the perfect remedy - a luscious Macaroni and Cheese. Not just an ordinary one, but one with delicious gourmet ingredients to turn this classic dish into a serious pot of adult-sized comfort. I arrived at the Cheese section of Zabars and I picked up a creamy Mascarpone, fresh grated Parmesan, Gruyere and Fontina. Then I found some fresh garlic, cream, butter, parsley, pancetta and imported pasta - this was a recipe for a mean Mac and Cheese.
The pot started to brim with a creamy cheese concoction. I put the dish in the oven, watching with anticipation as the warm, savory smells filled my kitchen. After waiting anxiously to savor my creation, I scooped up the bubbly goodness into a bowl and upon tasting the first bite with its crispy crust and gooey cheese, was transported back to a time of comfort and bliss, when I didn’t have a care in the world, a simpler time and place that seemed long gone from today.
Who cares about the weather, I thought - I had arrived. I was home.
Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese
¾ c Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
¼ c Parmiagiano-Reggiano
5 ½ tbsp butter
¼ c plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cayenne
1 ½ c Gruyere or Comte, grated (from 5 ½ ounces)
1 c Fontina, chopped into small pieces
½ c mascarpone
1 ½ c dry pasta (macaroni, penne or your choice)
4 slices of bacon or prosciutto, cooked and crumbled
¼ c fresh parsley, chopped fine