Winner of the 2009 March Maple Madness recipe!
3 ½ cups whole milk (or more)
2 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounce block of pepper jack cheese, grated
8 Tablespoons butter divided
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon), coarsely chopped
4 large shallots, cut in half, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup flour
1 ½ cups fine bread crumbs (panko-Japanese breadcrumbs are great)
½ cup flat parsley, chopped
1 pound pasta – preferably – baby shells, orecchiette, or large elbows
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, sauté until crisp, about 6 minutes. Add shallot and garlic, sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter; allow to melt, then add flour and stir one minute. Gradually whisk in 3 ½ cups milk; simmer until thick enough to coat spoon thickly, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in cheeses and maple syrup. Whisk in more milk by ¼ cupfuls until sauce is thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and stir until very light golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Lightly butter 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Stirring occasionally. Drain well. Return pasta to pot. Add warm cheese sauce; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over. Bake mac and cheese until heated through and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Makes 10 servings