Monday, March 4, 2013

Baked Mac and Gorgonzola

Today was a snow day.  The weather and roads weren't good, school was called off and I was able to work from home, cuddled up under a blanket.  If it happens too many times during the winter, it gets to be a huge inconvenience.  However, that hasn't been a problem this year, so every now and then, it's a good thing.

And, what do I think of during these winter storms?  Comfort food.  When the wind is howling outside and the cold finds every little crevice in your home to seep in, I want something for dinner that makes me feel good.  There are so many great dishes that fall into that category, where does a person even start?  Mac and cheese, that's where.  I dare you to find something more comforting than mac and cheese.  No, not the stuff out of a box!  Don't even get me started on that!  I'm talking about any kind of pasta, except elbow mac, with a sauce made from any kind of good quality cheese.  I happened to have some gorgonzola in my refrigerator that needed to be used, and from that, this recipe was born.

Here's your Cast of Characters.

1 Lb. box of penne or rigatoni pasta
3 Tbsp., each, butter and flour
1 Cup chicken broth
2 Cups fat-free half and half
3 Oz. whole gorgonzola
1/2 Cup gorgonzola crumbles
8 Oz. neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1 Tbsp. Lawry's season salt
2 Tsp. McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic & Herb blend
1/2 Tsp. black pepper
1/2 Cup Italian blend cheese
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 Cup cornflake crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 3 quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook noodles until just al dente and drain.

Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet, over medium heat.  Once it's melted, add flour in, stirring to make a roux.

Cook for about a minute, just until the roux is golden in color.

Slowly add in chicken broth, whisking out any lumps.

Followed by the half and half.

Once that is heated through, add the block of gorgonzola, neufchatel and seasonings.

Stir until the cheeses have started to melt.  Add the Italian blend cheese next.

Whisk, while continuing to cook over medium heat, until all cheeses have melted and been incorporated.

Pour cheese sauce over noodles, stirring to coat evenly.

Add gorgonzola crumbles, and stir just to mix in, but not melt.

Place in prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine melted butter and cornflake crumbs.

Sprinkle evenly over pasta.

Bake uncovered for 35 - 40 minutes, until top is golden brown and heated thoroughly.

I should warn you, a person really has to like gorgonzola for this recipe.