Michael Romano's Macaroni & Cheese
An Easy Gourmet Version of Your Favorite Comfort Food
For the final Tabla Thanksgiving family dinner, shortly before the restaurant closed, the mandate was simple: Make a dish you love. For sous chef Zia Sheikh, now a sous chef at North End Grill, it was an amplified macaroni and cheese, with mustard, thyme, shallots, garlic, and Grana Padano livening up the sauce and a crusty cheese-and-bread-crumb topping.
To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the thyme and cook, stirring, until the shallots are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
Slowly add the flour, stirring constantly, and cook for 5 minutes, so that the flour loses its raw taste. Add the stock, stirring constantly, then increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the flavors come together.
Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Strain the sauce into a bowl.
Clean the saucepan, add the sauce, and return it to low heat. Add the cheeses and mustard, stirring constantly. Once the cheese is completely melted, season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. (The sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and reheat slowly before using.)
To assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and add the salt. Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir, and cook until just al dente. Drain well.
Combine the pasta with the sauce and pour into the baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the panko and Grana Padano. Sprinkle over the pasta. Bake until the top is golden brown and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.
Recipe courtesy Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home.
This recipe was styled by chef Karen Pickus for Good Morning America.