Brrr…it’s cold outside. We’ve barely started on our lunch, but already we’re dreaming about what to put in the oven for dinner tonight. Here’s a recipe that will do just fine: rich and creamy 5-cheese mac and cheese from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes (his wife, Marja, actually created it).
In the headnote he writes, “This is one of the most requested dishes in my home, especially when we have children over. Instead of making a béchamel sauce, Marja simply blends her ingredients and bakes them into a rich custard that suspends the pasta. Her blend of five cheeses creates layers of flavors in this homey casserole. Marja’s always happy to bake it for a crowd, and everyone’s always happy to eat it.”
Marja’s Mac ’n’ Cheese
From Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes (Clarkson Potter, 2011)
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ cups half-and-half
²⁄³ cup whole milk2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
6 ounces mild yellow Cheddar cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
1 pound dried elbow macaroni
4 ounces cream cheese, chilled, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 13 × 9 × 2-inch baking dish.
Whisk together the cream, half-and-half, milk, eggs, yolks, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and whisk again. Combine the shredded cheeses in another large bowl and mix well.
Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water until almost al dente, about 3 minutes. The pasta should still be firm. Drain well.
Spoon a third of the macaroni into the buttered dish, and top with a third of the cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering and seasoning twice. Dot the surface with the cream cheese, then carefully pour the cream mixture into the dish.
Bake for 5 minutes, then use a large offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the melted cream cheese evenly over the top. Continue to bake until just set, about 40 minutes. Serve warm.