Grown Up Mac and Cheese

This installment of Barefoot Bloggers was chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl, and I could just give her a big hug for picking macaroni and cheese. I mean, really, who DOESN’T love macaroni and cheese?! And what are the odds that Ina Garten would create a mac n’ cheese that wasn’t freaking fantabulous? I have been making the same baked macaroni and cheese recipe for the past year or so, and this version wasn’t too terribly different, but it introduced some “grown up” flavor in terms of the types of cheeses used and the addition of bacon. This really was a fabulous recipe, it certainly lived up to the hype!

The cheeses used in this recipe were Gruyere, white cheddar, and blue cheese – a very upscale divergence from Velveeta, wouldn’t you say? I am not a fan of blue cheese so I substituted fontina in its place, and the combination was phenomenal. At first I was a little fearful that the Gruyere might overpower the other flavors in this dish, but they all melded together wonderfully. I did do a little cheating in this recipe. Instead of baking the bacon in the oven, I just microwaved it until crispy (how I usually cook bacon). Also, in place of grinding my own breadcrumbs, I just sprinkled Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs over the top of the finished dish before popping it in the oven. It’s also apparent that I didn’t use elbows or shell pasta – I used gemelli because, for whatever reason, I have found that it’s my absolute favorite pasta to eat in macaroni and cheese!

An additional note – I don’t have individual size gratin dishes (and Ina, for the love of God, please, PLEASE start alluding to some sort of size when you mention baking dishes and pans in your recipes!! This is my only beef with you!), so I baked this in a 2 quart casserole dish, which worked out just perfectly.

And one more note (I swear this is the last – I keep thinking of things!) – at first I thought the fact that this served 2 was ridiculous, and maybe I’m just a pig, but yeah, I think two main course servings is about right.

More Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) recipes:
Herbed-Baked Eggs
Pesto Pasta & Chicken
Parmesan Chicken
Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Panzanella Salad
Cream of Mushroom Soup

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes


4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi (I used gemelli)
1½ cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

3. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

4. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

5. Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.


54 Responses to “Grown Up Mac and Cheese”

  1. susan on September 10, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    yum! haha. its sophisticated mac & cheese!


  2. Kate on September 10, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I am so going through a gruyere phase right now. I think we go through a block a week.


  3. Cathy on September 10, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Oh, great call substituting the fontina for the blue cheese! The blue cheese ruined it for us — I should have known better! I know that this would have been the perfect mac & cheese had the third cheese been something other than blue. Great pictures! They make me want to try again soon.


  4. Tanya on September 10, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Ooh, I just joined BB and this was my first recipe! I loved it! These “grown up” mac and cheeses are just so good. There was no way this worked out to just two portions in our house. I think more like 4-6.

    By the way, I noticed you used white cheddar. I was confused by what kind and I just used extra sharp yellow cheddar. Maybe white would have been better?


  5. Suzie on September 11, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Great pictures – and I will have to try it again with Fontina. I love that cheese! I was really impressed with the recipe and will definitely make it again.


  6. Melissa on September 11, 2008 at 1:52 am

    I loved this one too!


  7. Audrey Ditzler on September 11, 2008 at 5:17 am

    This looks sooooo good! You had me a cheese, but then sweetened the deal with bacon, haha. I’m thinking we’re going to have to try this one next week. (And thank goodness, you gave a substitute for blue cheese!)


  8. Kirsten on September 11, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Love your pictures. Looks like it turned out great!


  9. Joelen on September 11, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Great pasta choice! I like gemelli pasta too and it looks like it does a great job holding that cheesy goodness! Glad the fontina worked out well in place of Roquefort!


  10. colleen on September 11, 2008 at 9:45 am

    My mouth is watering as I read this. I love the different cheeses – and gemelli is my favorite pasta shape!


  11. The City Sage on September 11, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Nice call on subbing in the Fontina. I harbour deep suspicions for any food that’s intentionally allowed to grow mold…

    And these super close-up pics are making me drool! This recipe looks like a must-try.


  12. The Cat's Pajamas on September 11, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Glad you liked it. I don’t do blue cheese either. Did the Fontina do the dish justice? I didn’t make Ina’s recipe… I did my own. Now I’m regretting it and wishing I had made the full-tilt boogie.


  13. Maria on September 11, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I like the spiral noodles! FUN! Looks like a down home yummy meal!


  14. Brianna on September 11, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Love the spiral noodles 🙂 It looks great!!


  15. Michele on September 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Whoa! I need to stop reading blogs when I’m starving! That picture is fantastic! Recipe sounds great too! I’m not a fan of Ina (sorry!) but this recipe sounds like a keeper. I would have made the same changes as you. I absolutely LOVE Fontina cheese…next time you make bruschetta try melting a slice on the toast and then but the cold bruschetta on top. Heaven I tell you! Sorry for such a long comment…I’m going to go and put this on my list of recipes to try now…maybe I’ll even stop buying the little blue box (if my bf lets me)!!!


  16. Erin on September 11, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I loved your comments… maybe I’m just a pig. From one pig to another, it looks pretty wonderful.:)


  17. Christine on September 11, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I am so going to have to try it with fontina and I think I will use pancetta next time! Your mac and cheese looks delicious and I can’t wait to post my soup!


  18. Mary Ann on September 11, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Yours turned out super delicious looking. We really loved this recipe and I fit it into 6 individual ramekins, which made the servings perfect for a side dish. Your biscotti looks wonderful as well!


  19. Rebecca on September 11, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    There is just no freakin’ way this is two servings. Ina would have to be airlifted out of her house for those picnics at the beach. 😉


  20. Erica on September 12, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Gemelli is my favorite pasta shape for jsut about everything… I think because it always stays nice and chewy int he center. I wish I could find it in a whole wheat variety!

    Your mac looks great, and I really want to try it with fontina now. I’ve never been a big fan of blue cheeses (although I did use some in my dish) but fontina is a cheese I can get behind.


  21. Bellini Valli on September 12, 2008 at 8:54 am

    What I loved about this recipe was the breadcrumb and basil topping:D


  22. Tami on September 12, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Looks delish! And I love the pics!!! Your website is terrific by the way 😉


  23. Lisa on September 12, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Stunning photography makes this look even better!


  24. heather on September 13, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    ohh, i make a mac-n-cheese very similar to this one. i love adding gruyere to it! it really makes it a lot more complex! sometimes I sprinkle granny smith apple cubes over the top when it’s almost done baking – i’m a sucker for cheese and apples! this looks lovely!!


  25. Caldwell Price on September 13, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    That looks so good! We will be trying this in the coming week, perfect for a dinner with friends and kids.


  26. Diane on September 14, 2008 at 3:43 am

    I’m a massive fan of Mac cheese as is my son. We lov-e mixing cheeses in the recipes to see which combos are nicest.
    I’m sure we’ll have a play with this recipe very soon.
    I also put lots of segmented tomatoes into the recipe to make it a bit more healthy – the tomatoes are lovely with all that cheese.


  27. Amber on September 15, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Wow Chelle, this looks fantastic. I am desperately craving mac and cheese now.


  28. Jodie on September 15, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Looks so good! Isn’t it funny how some pastas taste better in certain recipes?


  29. Avesta on September 18, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    The gourmet mac n cheese was our #1 seller at our restaurant. I don’t know if there’s anything better than a really good, sophisticated mac n cheese…talk about comfort food! Your site is just great.


  30. KimdaCook on October 9, 2008 at 3:17 am

    Wow now thats mac and cheese, will be trying this out for sure!!!!


  31. Deborah Dowd on October 27, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    This mac and cheese makes me glad I am a grown up!


  32. Kim Cooking on October 29, 2008 at 5:44 am

    I though my Mac and Cheese was the bomb but after reading this recipe, I have to blush and say this could be better.


  33. Chris on November 10, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Swiss, provolone, and extra sharp cheddar along with a medium dark roux make up my mac and cheese, but this looks just as good.


  34. Tim on November 12, 2008 at 1:28 am

    This looks delicious — I keep coming back to this page to look at it again 🙂


  35. UK Foodie on November 13, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    That looks delicious, I’m so hungry!


  36. Mattress on November 25, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Yummy, I want to try this so bad. It looks delicious, mouth-watering!!!!!!!!


  37. Mara on November 27, 2008 at 9:32 am

    That looks amazing! Thanks for the idea!


  38. Eric Hoffman on February 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Wow that looks yummy. Is there anything better than that?


  39. Dawn on January 23, 2010 at 12:06 am

    I agree gemelli is absolutely the best pasta shape! I can’t wait to try this recipe! Sounds yummy! Thanks and keep doing what you do!


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  50. Minnie on August 24, 2014 at 12:50 am

    You said that you subbed out fontina for blue cheese? But you left the blue cheese amount in your recipe. So how much fontina did you use and did you crumble it or shred it?


    • Michelle on August 24th, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Hi Minnie, I used 2 ounces fontina, shredded. Enjoy!


  51. Alexz Ross on January 21, 2015 at 3:44 am

    So delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe 🙂 I am sure that my grand child will like it 🙂


  52. April Herbert on May 27, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    I really love mac and cheese, I love to eat those even if I am on diet


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