I know this picture is a little blurry.  I think it was a combination of the fact the cheese sauce was still bubbling and I was trembling with anticipation at sitting down to this dish which we only make about once a month.  There are only four major ingredients: cheese, cream, shell pasta and proscuitto.  Unlike other macaroni and cheese dishes, this one does not begin with a roux of flour and butter, it begins with heavy cream–the one that comes in a white bottle with blue label and pink top from Trader Joe’s.  A cup of the cream goes into a Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish over low heat with a good amount of black pepper.  Then slowly, very slowly, about 2 cups of cheese (done with a large-hole grater) get added.  For this one, that meant Gruyere, Cheddar, Parmigiano, Roquefort and Gorgozola, with the last two in small amounts.  Meanwhile, the 2 cups of large shells–we like Barilla–boil until 3/4s done, then are drained and tossed with the warm sauce right in the casserole.  On top goes cubed Proscuitto and then it’s put into 500 oven for 10 minutes or until bubbly brown–you can use the broiler for extra browning like we did here.  Let sit for five minutes and then eat.  This dish does not do well with substitutions.  Not whole milk, not skim milk, not low fat cheese, not just-any-old cheese.  Of course you don’t have to use all 5 and you can eliminate the blue ones if you don’t like that flavor and you can certainly omit the Proscuitto if you want to go vegetarian.  If for some unknown reason the whole dish doesn’t get finished, the leftovers should be reheated in a pan not the microwave.  At least that’s what I hear.  In my house, by the end of dinner we’re scraping the dish for the last brown bits.

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