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Prosciutto and Pine Nut Mac & Cheese

from Mac & Cheese, Please!: 50 Super Cheesy Recipes by Laura Werlin
Prosciutto and Pine Nut Mac & Cheese

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces medium shell pasta (or use orecchiette)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), slivered
3/4 cup pine nuts
4 tablespoons salted butter
2 cups toasted or stale bread crumbs (preferably homemade)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole or reduced-fat milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces Havarti cheese, coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
6 ounces Taleggio cheese, cut into bite-size chunks (2 cups; or use Italian Fontina)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces paper-thin slices prosciutto, cut into !4 by 1-inch strips

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in Laura Werlin's
Mac & Cheese, Please!


I could eat pine nuts every day. I love their richness, their small size, and their crunch. For all those reasons, I thought they'd make a great topping for this mac & cheese. The nuts, along with the prosciutto, which becomes crispy when cooked, make for a double crunch on top of the silky, flavorful filling beneath it.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter and 8-inch square (1 1/2 quart) baking dish or pan (or 6 8-ounce ramekins). Set aside.

Fill a 4- to 5-quart pot about three-quarters full and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tender but firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and drain. Reserve the pot.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, shaking the pan constantly, until they are a light golden color. Watch carefully, because they burn easily. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl. Using the same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Turn off the heat and add the bread crumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pine nuts. Stir until mixed well. Set aside.

Using the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly until a paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds. Continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the mixture starts to darken slightly and smell a bit nutty. Slowly whisk in the milk, cream, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until the mixture starts to thicken and is just beginning to bubble around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the Havarti, Taleggio, rosemary, mustard powder, cayenne, and nutmeg and stir until the sauce is smooth but not too runny. It should be similar in texture to cake batter. If it's soupy, continue cooking until it thickens.

Add the pasta and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the bread crumb mixture and scatter the prosciutto strips over the bread crumbs. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the prosciutto is crisp and the mac & cheese is bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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