Chef Terrance Brennan of the Manhattan restaurant Artisanal uses penne instead of the standard elbow macaroni for his take on the dish, which is topped with a crisp panko-Parmesan crust.
Artisanal Macaroni and Cheese
Penne pasta with a sauce of four piquant cheeses and a crisp panko topping sets this baked mac n' cheese apart from the crowd.
Kosher salt, to taste
12 oz. hollow pasta, preferably penne
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup dried bread crumbs, preferably panko
1 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 1 cup)
1⁄4 cup flour
3 1⁄2 cups milk
4 oz. grated Gruyère (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
4 oz. grated Comté or Cantal (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
4 oz. grated fontina (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 350°. Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
Melt 3 tbsp. of the butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over low heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmesan, toss to combine, and transfer to a small bowl; set aside.
Wipe out the saucepan and set over medium heat. Melt the remaining butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook, continuing to whisk often, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Stir in the Gruyère, 1 cup of the Comté, and 1 cup of the fontina and whisk until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat and stir in the reserved pasta. Pour the mixture into a 2-qt. baking dish and top with the remaining Comté and fontina. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over the top and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.