Sometimes a girl just needs a little bit of comfort food. We never had Mac 'n Cheese growing up, at least I don't remember ever having it. If we did, it surely came from a box with some kind of magic packet of fluorescent yellow stuff, called cheese. This version is made with aged Cheddar and Gruyere cheeses and gluten-free Tinkyada spiral pasta. If Tina had her way, we would be eating this at least once a week. A time or two every fall/winter is enough for me. Oh don't get me wrong, I love it, but it isn't exactly healthy and packs more than a punch of calories. I guess if you wanted you could scale back and use skim milk and low fat cheese but then why bother at all. This is thick, creamy and comforting. Don't be put off by the tomatoes, they really add to the dish! It really is a special occasion dish and if your wallet can manage, add some lobster meat for an over the top meal.
1 pound Tinkyada pasta, elbow or spiral work nicely
1 quart whole milk (I confess, I use half cream, half milk)
8 ounces butter, divided
1/2 cup white rice flour
8 ounces aged Cave Gruyere Cheese, grated
12 ounces aged Cheddar, grated (I used four year)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (I used Udi's)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook for about 13 minutes, drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a sauce pan, don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk, add nutmeg, salt and pepper. While whisking, add the hot milk slowly and cook until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the cheeses, stirring until they are melted and incorporated into the sauce. Add the cooked pasta and stir well. pour into a baking dish.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of the tomatoes. Bake 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned.
You can easily make this ahead of time. Simply assemble the dish, cover with foil and put in the fridge. When your ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and put the covered dish in the oven for about an hour. Remove the foil and cook another 15 minutes until bubbly and browned.