© 2015 Jeffrey B. Rogers, The Culinary Fanatic
May not be reproduced, reprinted, or distributed without permission
My mother passed down her macaroni and cheese recipe to me about 20 years ago. I have made my own tweaks since then to create what is now known as my Ultimate Five-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese. Made with a blend of sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, and Parmesan cheeses, this dish has become a favorite of every single person who has tasted it. Yes, this recipe is a little labor intensive, but it is well worth it!
I cooked this dish in a Lodge 3-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven. The following directions also include a temperature variation for when cooking it in glass, which I often do.
- 1 or 2 lbs. Mueller’s Elbow Macaroni
- 1 lb. Sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 lb. Mozzarella cheese
- 1 lb. Monterey Jack Cheese
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 1/2 sticks Land O Lakes salted butter
- 3 Cups Whole milk
- 4 large eggs
- 4 tsp. Sea Salt
- 3 tsp. white sugar
- Dried basil
- Hungarian paprika
- Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Grate you sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack cheeses. Keep them separated.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and then add 1 tsp. of sea salt. And 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Add the elbow macaroni to the boiling water and stir frequently so that it does not stick together. Do NOT cook your macaroni until it is soggy. Cook it until it is just shy of al dente. When your macaroni is al dente, it still has a little bite and chew to it. This is good because it will cook further when you put the dish in the oven. The size of your dish will determine how much macaroni you will need. For my 3-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven, 1 lb. was enough. If you are not sure, go ahead and use 2 lbs. You can always use the leftover for something else.
- Drain the macaroni and add about a 3/4 stick of butter cut into cubes, and stir until melted.
- Set macaroni aside and allow it to cool for 20 minutes or so.
- If cooking in cast iron, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. If cooking in glass, preheat to 400 degrees F.
- Generously coat the dish you are using with butter.
- Begin to build your macaroni and cheese. Add a single layer of macaroni. Then, add a light layer of mozzarella, then sharp cheddar, and then Monterey Jack cheese. I always do the sharp cheddar second because of the contrasting color with the white cheeses. It makes it easier to see where I’ve been when spreading the last white cheese.
- After the layer of cheeses, sprinkle a very sparse layer of dried basil.
- Repeat. Add a layer of macaroni followed by layers of mozzarella, sharp cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. Follow again with the sparse layer of dried basil.
- Repeat one last time. On this last layer, the presentation layer, you want the cheeses to be a little more mixed. You don’t want all of the white cheeses on top. Should be a nice mix. So kind of alternate your cheeses so the top looks mixed – not all one color.
- Sprinkle on one last sparse layer of dried basil.
- Then, on the top only, sprinkle a light layer of Parmesan cheese followed by a light layer of Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Top the dish off with an ultra light layer of Hungarian paprika for color. Use a shaker so you don’t get clumps.
- In a blender, combine 3 cups of milk, 4 eggs, 3 tsp. sea salt, and 3 tsp. white sugar. Blend for about 15 seconds. How much of this you will need to make will depend on how large of dish you are using.
- Pour the milk/egg mixture slowly into the center of the macaroni. Pour slowly so that you do not disturb your layer of Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, and paprika. Keep an eye on the edges of the dish and fill to just below the top of the last layer of macaroni. The cheese should mound above the macaroni and milk/egg mixture.
- Cover the dish with a lid or foil, and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove lid or foil and cook an additional 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it for the last ten minutes so that you DON’T scorch the top. The top should just be lightly browned. If the top begins to get too brown, put the lid back on or tent the dish with foil. It does need the full hour in the oven.
- After your macaroni and cheese has cooked for one hour, test the center for doneness. This dish should be relatively firm, not soupy or runny. Insert something like a bamboo skewer into the center of the dish, all the way to the bottom. If a runny liquid is released, your dish is not done. Cover and put back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or so, then check it again. Time will vary on this dish depending on what you cook it in. Deeper dishes take longer to cook.
- Allow the dish to rest for 10 minutes or so before serving.