Some days, you’ve had a real fucking long week, and you are looking for some real comfort food, but also to turn the comfort factor up to ten by adding some really, really good cheese. This is possibly my new favorite mac and cheese recipe, ever. Getting all the cheese properly grated takes some time, but the end result is so, so worth it.

I picked up most of the cheese from the farmer’s market, and for the brie, I went with a triple cream brie, because yes. I also substituted panko for bread crumbs, because panko are the best version of bread crumbs (light, airy, and they stay crispier longer). It’s also going to last me a good long while, too, because of the sheer amount this makes. 

Cheesemonger’s Mac and Cheese
Lasts a damn long time; at week two of this as a main for lunch

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c coarsely grated gruyere cheese (I used what I had leftover from making toast soldiers, which was about maybe half of a 6 oz block, and a bit of a .33 lb block to top it off)
  • 1.5 c coarsely grated aged sharp cheddar (I used a 6 year aged white from the local farmer’s market, about a third total of a pound block)
  • 1.5 c brie, rinds removed and diced (I cut the rinds off of a pound of triple cream brie and just diced it all up, probably ended up being closer to 2 c)
  • 4 T butter
  • .25 c flour
  • pinch thyme (fresh thyme leaves if you have them, otherwise ground works fine)
  • ~1 t nutmeg
  • 4 c whole milk
  • 1.75 c panko
  • 1 lb penne pasta

Mix your grated gruyere, aged sharp cheddar, and brie together in a bowl, and reserve one cup. Chill both the bowl and the reserved cup. 

Melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat, and as soon as it melts, add in your flour, whisking until the mixture turns golden brown. (You could probably also brown the butter to amp up the flavor even more.)  Add in your thyme and nutmeg, followed by your milk, whisking until it’s thickened and smooth (about four minutes). Add the 3 c of cheese mixture, and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce, and is smooth.

In another pot, cook your penne according to the directions on the package, and preheat your oven to 375 while it cooks.  After draining the pasta, take a large glass pan and pour the cooked pasta into it.  Pour the cheese sauce over it, and toss to coat. Take that remaining 1 c you had of the cheese mixture, spread it over the top of the pasta and cheese sauce, and then spread the 1.75 c of panko over the dish. Bake for about twenty minutes until the panko start to turn golden brown and the sauce bubbles (see the difference between pictures six and seven). 

(The original recipe has you baking these in separate ramekins, but that seems a bit unecessary to me. In addition, the instructions at the end aren’t that clear as to how long you need to actually bake it – there are two sets of instructions for doing it ahead and doing it day of, and they’re not separated out – but as far as I can tell the twenty minutes at 375 is how long you’re supposed to bake it.)

My mom got me some lovely little ramekins as part of my Christmas gifts, and the moment I came across this recipe, I knew this was what I was going to use to break them in. I altered the recipe a bit, as I’m not the biggest fan of spinach, and honestly didn’t want to go out in the cold to get shallots. Regardless, the resulting dish is pretty fantastic, and makes a perfect Sunday breakfast – especially when served with mimosas using the leftover champagne. 

Champagne Baked Eggs with Crispy Ham
Makes 4 ramekins

Ingredients

  • 1 c champagne
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch sea salt and pepper
  • 1 T melted butter for ramekins
  • .75 c grated gruyere
  • 2 oz ham, sliced into thin strips

Preheat your oven to 350. Melt your butter, and split between the ramekins. Divide your cup of champagne equally between the four ramekins, and crack an egg into each one, adding a pinch of sea salt and pepper on top. Fry your ham in a skillet over medium heat until it’s your desired level of crispy (I went mildly crispy), and split between the ramekins. Sprinkle the gruyere over each ramekin. 

Put the ramekins on a baking sheet (or pizza pan in my case), and bake for 13 to 15 minutes (the deeper the ramekin, the longer it’ll need to bake). Let rest for about five minutes, and then enjoy!