Recipe courtesy of Melissa Mayer

Quintessential Mac N Cheese

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Cook: 35 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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For the pasta:

5 cloves chopped garlic, plus 3 cloves whole garlic

3 bay leaves


Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoons paprika, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3 quarts water, boiling

1 pound dry elbow macaroni

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Olive oil, to taste

For the cheese sauce:

1 pound aged sharp Cheddar

3/4 cup white Cheddar

3 ounces Asiago

3 ounces Pecorino

3 ounces Gorgonzola

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup creme fraiche

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 lemon, juiced, 1/2 lemon, zested

2 teaspoons finely ground Mediterranean sea salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

3 organic eggs, beaten

For the pesto:

1 cup olive oil

1 lemon, zested

2 ounces basil leaves

2 ounces raw pine nuts

1-ounce feta cheese


Freshly ground black pepper

For the cream sauce:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup creme fraiche

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon paprika


Freshly ground black pepper

French bread, cut diagonally

Unsalted butter, as needed


  1. For the pasta:
  2. Prepare pasta stock by adding 5 cloves garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, paprika, smoked paprika, to the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain stock and return liquid to the pot. Bring to a boil and add macaroni until done. Strain pasta and toss with dry mustard. Toss in salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste.
  3. Grate all the cheeses, making sure to keep Asiago and Pecorino separate from the Cheddars. Crumble the Gorgonzola cheese. Melt the butter and add the flour through a fine-mesh sieve. Add cream and creme fraiche. Add dry mustard, Dijon mustard, paprika, smoked paprika, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Add Gorgonzola and Cheddar cheeses to the sauce, returning to low heat.
  4. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and add egg, combine well. Top with grated Asiago and Pecorino. Put in individual crocks and bake until bubbly golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. For the pesto:
  6. Blend the olive oil, lemon zest, basil, pine nuts, feta, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor to make basil pesto.
  7. In a saucier, combine the heavy cream, creme fraiche, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook on medium heat until flavors meld and sauce reduces.
  8. Cut bread into 8 toastettes. Season with salt, pepper and butter. Put in oven to toast. Remove and drizzle with basil pesto and cream sauce.
  9. Serve macaroni and cheese and serve immediately with toastettes.