Vermont Mac & Cheese
- About a pound of macaroni
- A couple of tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces thick cured bacon, preferably from local happy pigs
- 5 cups whole milk, preferably raw
- ¼ cup sweet butter
- About ½ cup flour
- About 1 cup grated hard cheese (I like a local Parmesan when I can get it. Aged two years, if available)
- 1½ cups grated Gruyère (sheep or goat is especially lovely here in the mountains. Older cheeses have that wonderful nutty flavor)
- 1½ cups grated Vermont sharp cheddar (How sharp? Really SHARP . . . and from cow’s milk)
- 1½ teaspoons good salt (less or more to taste)
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cook the macaroni al dente in salty water. Drain, toss with the olive oil, and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- Add the bacon to a small skillet and sauté over medium heat until brown, but not crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, then add to the cooked macaroni.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk just to a foamy boil, then reduce the heat to very low.
- In another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, remove from the heat. Whisk in the flour and continue stirring until a smooth, pale roux has formed. Return the saucepan to medium heat and, while whisking steadily, begin ladling the hot milk into the roux, 1 cup at a time, completely incorporating each cup before adding the next. After all the milk has been added, continue to whisk until the sauce thickens and bubbles gently, about 2 minutes. Add the hard cheese, half the Gruyère, and all of the cheddar, along with the salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir until the cheese has completely melted.
- Pour the sauce over the macaroni, mix thoroughly, and pour into a buttered 10-by-14-inch gratin dish. Back in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove, sprinkle the remaining cup of Gruyère over the top, and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes until the top is golden and crunchy.