Mini Macaroni and Cheese alla Italiana
Makes 6 Ramekins (4 ½ inch variety)
I heard this recipe on NPR—it’s that of the beautiful Nigella Lawson-and I thought that it would go beautifully as part of one of my catered dinners. So, thanks go to NPR and Nigella. Everyone loved this dish as I also did. And I think you also will. It’s a delicious twist on our ole’ Mac & Cheese.
- Butter spray for the ramekins
- 1 C. grated Gruyere
- 1 Tblsp. cornstarch
- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella (not buffalo) chopped
- 8 ounces pennette, or chifferi or elbow macaroni (I found some small pasta made by De Cecco—but Barillo also makes some)
- Salt for the pasta water
- 1/4 C. white vermouth or wine
- 1 ¼ C. chicken broth
- 1/4 C. mascarpone
10. 1 Tsp. truffle butter/paste or a few drops truffle oil (very expensive so actually I ground up some fresh mushrooms and along with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, mixed these ingredients with some soft butter and used that. It seemed to work).
11. 3 Tblsp. grated Parmesan
12. Ground white pepper or black is OK too
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray butter the ramekins.
- Toss the grated Gruyere with the cornstarch in a bowl.
- Boil the pasta according to the package directions, however, cut the cooking time by several minutes—so that the pasta is very al dente but still eatable. I watched it very carefully. Drain it and keep it in your colander for later.
- In a very large pan that will eventually hold the pasta in it, heat the vermouth to a boil and then add the chicken broth. Let it come to a boil again and take it off the burner and whisk in the cornstarch-tossed Gruyere. This mixture will melt into a mass of gooey cheese strings. Add the Mascarpone and whisk again. Then add the truffle oil/butter stirring it in the sauce. Lastly add the pasta and the chopped mozzarella. Stir once again to make sure everything is well mixed.
- Ladle the cheesy pasta into the sprayed ramekins trying to get an even amount of pasta and sauce in each. (The sauce will seem very liquid but don’t worry; the pasta will suck it up in the oven. Sprinkle the Parmesan on the top and then with pepper.
- Bake for 10 minutes in the hot oven. Let stand 5 minutes before eating. (I filled the ramekins with the pasta, etc. but left most of the liquid out because I was not going to serve them right away. I saved the liquid in a separate container. Several hours later, when I was ready to bake the ramekins, I put in my saved liquid in each ramekin and then baked them. They turned out just fine.)
- Lastly, Nigella says that you can broil these ramekins as well but I thought that baking them would be better.