Mac & Cheese are close to the pasta gratin we know in France, but the way I learnt to make gratin was different: it was one layer of macaroni, one layer of cream fraiche, one layer of cheese, repeated few times.
Mac & Cheese are good when well prepared, unfortunately, a lot of restaurants are using either already prepared ones or make it with processed cheese! There are two places were I had memorable Mac & Cheese: The Old Homestead Steakhouse in New York with their amazing Truffle Mac & Cheese and Dino and Harry's in Hoboken. It is in the latter that I had Italian Mac & Cheese, that is creamy Mac & Cheese but with orzo for pasta. So I tried to re create it at home. Below is the recipe:
For 4 servings:
- 8 oz orzo
- 0.25 lb of aged gruyere or comte
- 0.25 lb of sharp cheddar
For the bechamel:
- 6 table spoons of butter
- 1/5 cup of flour
- 1 pint of whole milk
- salt and pepper
Cook the orzo in boiling water with oil and salt. Cook them al dente. Once done, strain them.
Prepare the bechamel sauce: in a pan, low heat, melt the butter. Add salt and pepper. Incorporate the flour and then the milk until obtaining a creamy sauce.
Incorporate the grated cheese in the bechamel sauce and then put the orzo in the pan and stir until the sauce is all over the pasta. Put the pasta in a dish that can go in the over (ramequins are good for individual serving) and gratine in the oven (broil). Et voila!
Now, one thing you can do it to put some truffle oil (1/8 cup) with the butter when preparing the bechamel sauce! You will then have some delicious Truffle Mac & Cheese!