Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Gouda, Fontina
There are certain simple pleasures in life that make me feel good. Like walking hand in hand with my son, the feel of his trusting grip against my fingers, and the methodical thud, thud, thud of his 4- year- old gait, as his too-big rain boots scrape against the pavement. This was a moment that captured me as we made a quick trip to the store to get the ingredients for this dish. Dark skies and rainy weather are the perfect combination to enjoy another simple pleasure – comfort food. Macaroni and cheese to be exact.
I decided to go with a decadent holiday recipe that incorporates Wisconsin Gouda and Fontina cheeses, with a crispy balsamic glazed pancetta topping – and a sprinkling of Smoked Gouda for good measure. While this may not be the fanciest mac and cheese you’ve tried, it definitely qualifies as a delicious decadent holiday dish for me!
Balsamic Mac & Cheese
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, separated
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup half and half, warmed
10 ounces (2 ½ cups) cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) Wisconsin Gouda Cheese, shredded
4 ounces (1 cup) Wisconsin Fontina Cheese, shredded
salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
2 ounces (1/2 cup) Wisconsin Smoked Gouda Cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a large pot of water over high heat and cover. Roll up the pancetta and slice into strips with a sharp knife. In a large pan over medium heat, cook pancetta strips until just starting to crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over the pancetta and stir. Allow the cooked pancetta to drain on a paper towel and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Continue to cook, whisking mixture, for about 30 seconds. Add the rosemary and continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Slowly add the warmed milk and half and half, continue to whisk continuously so that there are no lumps. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, stirring constantly.
While waiting for the sauce to simmer, liberally salt the pot of boiling water. Add the pasta to the water and cook for about a minute less than package directions.
When the sauce has come to a simmer, stir in the 6 ounces (1 ½ cups) of Gouda, and the Fontina until melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, or more if you want a more pronounced flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the cooked pasta and stir into the cheese sauce until combined.
Pour the macaroni mixture into a baking dish, and sprinkle with half of the Smoked Gouda. Top with the cooked pancetta and then the remaining Smoked Gouda.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and the cheese is bubbly. If the pancetta starts to get too dark, cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Serve hot.
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decadent, Fontina, Gouda, holiday, pancetta, Wisconsin Cheese
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