Chef John Nesby of MorMor Bistro in Poulsbo
This simple recipe is derived from a basic ‘Mother Sauce,’ the ever popular béchamel. In order to make the final cheese sauce you must first make a quality béchamel to work with.
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 small onion or shallot, studded with 2 or 3 cloves (Cloves are optional.)
1 small bay leaf
1 dash dried leaf thyme, crumbled
salt and white pepper to taste
1 pinch nutmeg, or to taste
1⁄2 cup fine grated BelGioioso fontina cheese
1⁄2 cup grated Tillamook cheddar cheese
1/2-1 pound pasta of your choice
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
toasted bread crumbs and freshly chopped parsley for garnish
In a medium heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When butter starts to foam, add the flour all at once, mixing well with a wooden spoon.
Cook over low heat 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly to incorporate and cook flour. Remove pan from heat and let stand, up to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, scald milk (heating it until just below boiling point).Return saucepan with roux (butter and flour) to medium-low heat. Add all of the scalded milk at once (to avoid the formation of lumps). Simmer, stirring gently with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Add studded onion, bay leaf and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring, over low heat, 15 to 20 minutes, until smooth and thickened.
Strain sauce through a strainer. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste. Makes about 2 cups.
Now that you have the béchamel, the easy part comes into play. At MorMor we like to take finely grated fontina and Tillamook cheddar and simply whisk the cheese blend into the warm béchamel sauce. Now all you have to do is take and cook off some of your favorite pasta shape and style.
Once you have your pasta cooked, just toss your cooked pasta into a large sauté pan and gently incorporate until you cover all the pasta with the warm cheese sauce. Add Parmesan at this point.
The amount of pasta you use is completely up to you. For a less cheesy dish, add a little more pasta to your saucepan. Or if you really want a cheesy bowl of ‘Mac’ add just enough pasta to keep the consistency a little soupy.
To serve, bowl up your Mac and finish the top with some toasted bread crumbs, a touch of fresh grated Parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!