Macaroni & Cheese Gratin

by Melanie on November 1, 2008

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween! I LOVE Halloween. I am seriously a little crazy about holidays! Anyway, I served this for dinner on Halloween! It was wonderful! I got the recipe from Lizzy at the Dish on Delish. The crusty cheesy topping is awesome! It was a big hit with my boys, but my oldest especially loved it! He had two plates full when he came home from trick or treating! The whole time he was raving about it! What a great kid!!


Macaroni & Cheese Gratin
Submitted by Melanie

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/2 inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (note: Tillamook or Cabot is best)
1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 pound large elbow macaroni
3 hothouse tomatoes, sliced

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 Tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk (note: this step is important). Melt remaining 6 Tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick (note: cook over medium-low heat. I think the sauce will be more smooth if you don’t rush the thickening process.)
Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.
Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top.
Lay sliced tomatoes on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, coarse salt, freshly ground pepper and thyme leaves. Broil for about 10 minutes until softened. Let cool for a few minutes and then arrange on top of the gratin (over the breadcrumbs).
Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sandy November 2, 2008 at 3:45 pm

hey sisters – great recipe and fun blog you have!


2 Brittany November 2, 2008 at 11:51 pm

great recipe! can’t wait to try it out!


3 Marisa November 3, 2008 at 2:14 am

That sounds so good!


4 Jeni November 3, 2008 at 2:29 am

This looks totally awesome! I’ve got a daughter who’s crazy about Mac -n- Cheese! I’ll have to try this recipe out on her. Glad the boys had a great Halloween!


5 Anonymous November 3, 2008 at 4:50 am

Hey Sis- always fun when I get to dig into the finished masterpiece and this one was awesome! Best mac and cheese i\I’ve ever had. Thanks for having us over on Halloween!


6 Jen November 3, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Yum!! I’m always up for a good mac ‘n’ cheese recipe!

The smiley-face cherry tomatoes on top is a nice touch.


7 Maria November 3, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Love mac and cheese!! Cute smiley too!


8 Janean June 29, 2009 at 5:36 am

Where do you find Pecorino Romano? I've never heard of it. Is it just the brand or is it a certain type of Romano cheese? I have always wanted to find a good mac & cheese recipe but haven't yet. Can't wait to try it this week with my family.


9 Erin July 2, 2009 at 1:58 am

Hi Janean! Melanie is preparing for an upcoming move, so since she hasn't been able to answer your question, I'll answer as best I can. :)
Pecorino Romano is a hard Italian cheese with a sharp and salty flavor, made out of sheep milk and used primarily for grating, much like Parmesan. In fact, to be honest, I sometimes replace it with Parmesan depending on what I have on hand.
Pecorino Romano should be sold at your local grocer by the specialty cheeses. If you can't find it, try Parmesan instead. Good luck! And I hope you like this recipe!


10 Laura September 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Hi, was wondering if I could assemble this dish during the morning, then bake in the afternoon??


11 Melanie Anne September 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm

I think you could definetly make this in the morning. I would just be sure to cook your noodles al dente (slightly firm) and plan to cook it a little longer since it has been in the fridge. I love making my dinners in the morning–it makes my evenings so much smoother!


12 Ryanne Slocombe December 7, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Just made this tonight and we all loved it. Its the homemade mac n cheese recipe I’ve been looking for that makes everyone happy.


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