This recipe comes from a challenge that Emeril Lagasse conducted with ABC’s Good Morning America, and the winning recipe was from Laura Macek.
I adjusted the recipe slightly because of what I had available, but the end result was culinary magic. The roasted garlic was understated, but it added a depth that was needed. The mac and cheese was overall mild, and although there are quite a few ingredients, you can’t tell because they all blend together in a mild harmony that just works.
What I changed: I used Pancetta instead of bacon, Panko instead of fresh bread crumbs, and I omitted the Gruyere – simply because I did not have any this time around.
Laura Macek presented this recipe for Emeril's Best Ever Mac 'n' Cheese Challenge for Good Morning America.
- 1 head of garlic, roasted
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 pound Cavatappi pasta
- ½ pound sliced Applewood smoked bacon
- 1 ½ cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 8 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup minced shallots
- ½ cup flour
- 1 quart whole milk
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
To roast garlic
- Preheat oven to 350°. Slice ½ inch off the top of the entire head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic head tightly in a square of heavy foil and roast until tender — about 45 minutes. Remove garlic pulp by squeezing garlic head. Smash cloves with a fork to form a paste.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Cook bacon completely. Drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Crumble bacon when cool.
- To make topping: Combine breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Sauté shallots over low heat in reserved bacon fat for one minute. Add remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and continue to sauté shallots in butter and bacon fat until translucent.
- Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add milk and roasted garlic paste.
- Cook until sauce is thickened (coats the back of a spoon). Remove sauce from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
- Stir in cooked pasta. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle topping to cover entire top. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and topping is browned.
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