Or… Macaroni and Cheese – Italian-style…

We had a bit of time to burn at Penn Station, so off to Hudson News I went to see what fabulous literary offerings were in the offering.

Big store.  Slim pickin’s.  My eyes glazed over at the wall of political books.  Sorry, but if you need to read someone else’s book to figure out who you’re going to vote for in November… well…

This is a food blog, so other than the fact that you won’t get any recipes for Mooseburgers here, I’ll leave it at that…

Off in the magazine area, I picked up a copy of La Cucina Italiana.  It’s an Italian cooking magazine I’ve picked up  a couple of times.  The recipes are usually pretty good, but the cooking instructions can often annoy me… (I hate when magazines over-explain things…)


I came across a recipe entitled Pasticcio di Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi.  In reading the recipe, it was pretty much how my mom used to make her macaroni and cheese back when I was a kid.  I’ll copy their recipe and annotate where I changed things…

Bechamel sauce:

  • 2 cups whole milk (I used skim)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Freshly grated Nutmeg


  • 2 1/2 ounces fontina cheese, cubed (about 1/2 cup) (I used provelone)
  • 2 1/2 ounces asiago cheese, cubed (about 1/2 cup) (I used Port Salut)
  • 3 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 pound short pasta, like penne (I used dried tortolini)
  • 1 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Granna Padano cheese (I used a domestic parmesan)

Heat oven to 475°.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

For the bechamel:  In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium-low heat; bring just to boil then remove from heat.  In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add flour; cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for two minutes.  Do not brown.  Remove from heat.  Add 2 tablespoons milk to flour mixture, stirring constantly until milk is incorporated.  Repeat until 1/2 cup of the milk has been incorporated.Add remaining milk 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating between additions, until all milk has been added.  Return to low heat and cook, stirring frequently, especially along corners of pan, until bechamel is the consistency of thick cream.  Stir in salt, season with nutmeg and remove from heat; cover to keep warm. (I made a simple white sauce with 3 tbsp butter, 3 tbsp flour, and 2 cups milk, added a pinch of salt and a bit of fresh nutmeg.  Took about 4 minutes.  I then added about a quarter of the cheese cubes, stirred, and then let it simmer on a very low heat while I did the other stuff.)

For The Pasta:  Combine fontina, asiago, and gorgonzola in a large bowl.  Cook pasta in boiling water untilo al dente.  Drain pasta, immediately add to bowl of cheese, add bechamel and toss together to combine well.  Transfer pasta to a baking dish, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake until bheated through, about 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

It really came out great!

My mom’s mac and cheese always started out with a white sauce and whatever odds and ends of cheese she had in the ‘fridge.  And the pasta was always elbow macaroni.  This is the first time I’ve seen a recipe that even came close to hers.

It really was good!