Annie Somerville’s Macaroni and Cheese

Delish!  The herb-infused sauce is delicious!
from Everyday Greens by Annie Somerville of “Greens”

Serves 6 to 8

Garlic bread crumbs, about 1 cup (recipe follows)

1 qt. milk
½ c. heavy cream
½ large yellow onion, chopped, about 1 cup
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife, skin left on
3 parsley sprigs
2 fresh oregano or marjoram sprigs
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 to 3 fresh sage leaves
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
½ lb. penne
½ lb aged white cheddar cheese, grated, about 2 cups
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated, about 2/3 cup
¼ c. chopped chives (or the tops of green onions)

Make the Garlic Bread Crumbs and set aside.

Combine the milk, cream, onions, garlic, and herb sprigs and leaves in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.  Set aside to steep for 15 minutes.  Pour through a strainer and return to the pan.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk in the flour to make the roux, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the seasoned milk into the roux to make a paste.  Add the remaining milk 1 cup at a time, until all the milk has been incorporated.  Continue to cook – still whisking over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.  The sauce will be just slightly thickened.  Season with the mustard, ¼ t. salt, and a pinch of pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 2 qt. baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt lightly.  Drop in the penne and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.  It should be slightly undercooked to allow for baking time.  Drain the penne and place in a large bowl.  Pour the sauce over and toss in the cheeses and all but 1 tablespoon of the chives.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish, making sure to include all of the sauce.  Sprinkle with the garlic bread crumbs and bake until golden and bubbling, about 40 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining chives and serve.

Make ahead tip:  Cook the pasta a day ahead of time and toss it with a little oil to keep it from sticking together.  Steep the milk and make the sauce.  Make the Garlic Bread Crumbs and grate the cheese.  When you’re ready to bake it, just assemble the ingredients in the baking dish and pop it in the oven.

Garlic Bread Crumbs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Cut the bread (levain, ciabatta or sourdough Italian – but any crusty, coarse crumb bread will do) into thin slices and place on a baking sheet; bush with garlic oil (mince 2 cloves of garlic and add to 1 cup olive oil for one hour.  Strain the oil, then refrigerate to store), generously or lightly, as you like.  Bake until golden and very crisp, about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Break up the bread with your hands and pulse in a food processor, leaving the texture a little coarse.


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