Barefoot Bloggers ~ Grown-Up Mac and Cheese

Heather over at "Randomosity and the Girl" chose this recipe. Great choice Heather. It is not one I have made before so, here we go...

First, this ain't your mommas Mac and Cheese! It was very rich and full of flavor. I loved the crispy topping. I used sourdough bread and the basil was a delightful twist. The base was creamy and smooth. My husband is a HUGE fan of any type of pork products with bacon and sausage at the top of the list. So he was a happy, happy man with the crispy bacon bits. I also added some minced onion, since we love it so much. I was very nervous about the blue cheese, but was surprised at the result. It did not have strong presence at all. I also switched out macaroni and replaced it with mini penne. I baked it in a small casserole dish, instead of in two individual dishes and did not have any problems with the baking time.
So if your looking for a little twist on an old favorite. I highly recommend Barefoot Contessa's Grown-Up Mac and Cheese. Go ahead and leave a comment and tell me how yours turns out. If your interested in becoming a part of the Barefoot Bloggers, click here and make sure you let them know I sent you.
Bon Appetite!
PS. Next week we have Apple Turnovers. Yummy!
Grown Up Mac and Cheese
Ina Garten

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon (if your making a "Vegetarian" version of this, leave out the bacon. The cheeses will stand on their own.)
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.