(Serves about 8)
• Creamy, Three-Cheese Sauce (recipe below)
• Multigrain (or wholegrain) elbow macaroni pasta (14.5 ounces), uncooked
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), julienned
8 ounces sliced Prosciutto, crisped and chopped, divided use (*see note)
¼ cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated jalapeno jack cheese
¼ cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoon chives, chopped, for garnish
(*Crisp the Prosciutto slices, in batches, in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until golden-brown and crispy, similar to bacon; chop finely once cool enough to handle.)
-Preheat the oven to 350; lightly butter a large casserole/baking dish.
-Prepare the Creamy, 3-Cheese Sauce; set aside and keep warm.
-Cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions, and drain well.
-Next, add the cooked elbow macaroni directly into the Creamy, 3-Cheese Sauce, along with the sun-dried tomatoes, and gently stir to combine well; pour about half of the elbow macaroni/cheese sauce/sun-dried tomato mixture into the buttered casserole/baking dish, and then sprinkle over about half of the chopped, crispy prosciutto; next, pour the remainder of the elbow macaroni/cheese sauce/sun-dried tomato mixture into the casserole dish, and sprinkle over the top the ¼ cups of white cheddar, jalapeno jack and Gruyere cheeses, mixing them a bit; next, combine the panko bread crumbs with the olive oil, Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt using your fingers, and sprinkle that mixture evenly over top of the cheeses to form a crust.
-Place the uncovered casserole/baking dish into the oven to bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese is hot and gooey, and the breadcrumb topping is golden and crispy; if the breadcrumb topping needs additional browning, just turn the broiler on low, and allow it to crisp up a bit more for a moment or two (don’t walk away from it); to finish the mac n’ cheese, sprinkle the remainder of the chopped, crispy prosciutto over the top, as well as the chopped fresh chives, and serve immediately while hot.
Creamy, Three-Cheese Sauce ingredients:
4 cups low-fat milk
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon chicken base (I used “Better Than Bouillon” reduced sodium)
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
• Pinch ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter
9 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups, heaping, grated extra sharp white cheddar
1 ½ cups, heaping, grated jalapeno jack cheese
1 ½ cup, heaping, grated Gruyere cheese
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
-Add the milk, half and half, chicken base, garlic, salt, white pepper and nutmeg into a medium-sized pot, and place over medium heat; bring the mixture to a good simmer, whisk to blend so that all ingredients within are combined, and turn off the heat; keep warm.
-Place a large (preferably non-stick) pot over medium-low heat, and add the butter in; once melted, add in the flour, and stir to combine to form the “roux”, or thickener for the sauce, and allow it to cook for about 1 minute to cook out the raw flour taste; next, slowly pour the hot milk/half and half mixture into the roux, whisking the whole time to avoid lumps from forming; allow the mixture to come to the simmer for about 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally, to allow the sauce to thicken and tighten up a bit; once thickened, turn the heat off, and add the grated cheeses into the cream sauce, one at a time, whisking very well to blend between each addition of cheese; whisk in the lemon juice; once smooth and blended, cover and keep warm until ready to use, or cool completely, and keep in a covered container in the fridge until ready to use, when it can be re-heated gently.