1 pound of your favorite pasta- pick a short one
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of all purpose flour
3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of half and half (or heavy cream if you're feeling crazy)
2 cups of Gruyere cheese, grated
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup fontina cheese, grated
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you don't like a little kick)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese/1 tablespoon of fresh parsley (parsley is optional), combined for your topping
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Serving size- 6-8
1. Preheat your oven to 375.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil (always salt your water) and add your pasta. Cook your pasta according to pasta instructions (I always go a little less than it says since you're baking this and it will continue to cook, but up to you).
3. Meanwhile, melt your butter in a large pot/pan with high sides on medium and then sprinkle in the flour. Whisk this together until incorporated and then cook for about 2 minutes (on low heat) or until the raw flour taste has been cooked out. Then, slowly whisk in your whole milk. Once the milk has been added, bring this up to boil and whisk frequently until it begins to thicken up.
4. Once it's thickened, turn off the heat and add in the nutmeg, dried mustard, cayenne, pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper (you can go heavier on the pepper, I think it's necessary in this creamy sauce, but up to you), and all of your cheeses. Mix until it's completely incorporated. If you think it's too thick, simply add some milk to it and continue mixing. Taste for seasonings.
5. Once the pasta has cooked, add it to the cheese mixture and combine. Pour the pasta into a greased baking dish, and cover it with your Panko/Parmesan/Parsley mixture. Drizzle the top with a little olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown!