Flashback: Last November. David Lebovitz posted about Making Swiss Cheese Fondue. It looked and sounded incredibly cheesy and rich--and amazing.
Confession: I’d never had fondue. EVER. I’m not usually one for cheesy sauces. I know, right? Crazy. Not even chocolate fondue! What is wrong with me?
That post--I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had to have some cheese fondue, and quick. I planned to get the stuff together and make one for us to enjoy after decorating the Christmas tree. That didn’t work out, so I figured we’d have one at Christmas. The stomach flu foiled that plan. It didn’t seem like I’d get around to having my cheese fondue, dammit.
David said that fondue is so popular in Switzerland, that cheese vendors sell pre-made mixes for cheese fondue. Speaking of that, guess what we found at Trader Joe’s? Yes! Trader Jacque’s Cheese Fondue, imported from France. It was fate, telling me to have that fondue for New Years Day. Looking at the ingredient list, it had all the things David mentions in his post: white wine, Kirsch, Gruyère, Emmenthal, Comtè, and garlic. All you had to do was melt and stir it in the container, right in the microwave. I’m now officially hooked on cheese fondue! The Kirsch is optional, but I highly recommend you read not only his fondue post, but also his post on Kirsch and why you should have some on hand. I bought a bottle on his recommendation, and plan to try it in more recipes.
While we were having our fill of fabulous bread cubes dipped in this amazing melted cheesy goodness, Billy thought it would be fun to pour it over some pasta for a quickie mac and cheese. Since he was willing to do the work, I said “Yeah, ok!” I’m not one to turn down mac and cheese, you know?
Which brings me to today’s post. Cheese Fondue Mac and Cheese. I combined the traditional fondue ingredients with a few other things to make a great cheese sauce perfect for pouring over your favorite noodles. If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods nearby, you already know that they have fabulous cheese selections. I know that Emmenthal and Gruyère aren’t uncommon, but Comtè may be harder to find. At any rate, I’ll give you some info and substitutions on each, from one of my favorite sites, Cook’s Thesaurus.
- Emmental = Emmentaler = Emmenthaler = Emmenthal = Bavarian Swiss cheese Pronunciation: EM-uhn-tall Notes: This Swiss cheese is riddled with holes and has a mild, nutty flavor. It's an excellent melting cheese, and a key ingredient in many fondues. Substitutes: Jarlsberg (similar) OR Beaufort OR Gruyère OR Swiss OR raclette
- Gruyere = Gruyère Pronunciation: grew-YARE Notes: Gruyères are excellent melting cheeses, and they're commonly used to make fondues, soufflés, gratins, and hot sandwiches. Varieties include Swiss Gruyère, Beaufort, and Comté. Substitutes: Emmentaler OR Jarlsberg OR Appenzell OR raclette OR Swiss cheese
- Comte = Comté = Gruyère du Comté = Comte Gruyere Pronunciation: kohm-TAY Notes: This excellent French cow's milk cheese dates from the time of Charlemagne. It has a mildly sweet, nutty flavor, much like Gruyère. It's a very good melting cheese. Substitutes: Gruyère OR Fontina OR Beaufort OR Emmentaler
Cheese Fondue Mac and Cheese
16 oz of your favorite mac and cheese-type noodle (I like Barilla Cellentani)
1/2 cup butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt (test sauce when finished-we added a couple more pinches)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp flour
3 1/4 cups milk
1/4-1/2 cup white wine
1-2 tsp Kirsch (optional)
1 pound cheese (a blend of Emmenthal, Gruyère and Comtè), shredded
Panko bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350. Cook the pasta till just al dente, it'll cook more in the oven. Set aside.
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and flour. Whisk until smooth, remove from heat. Add milk, wine and Kirsch, return to heat and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute while whisking. Remove from heat and add cheese, stir until completely melted.
I double dog dare you not to eat up all the bread in your house by dipping it in the sauce at this point.
Pour the sauce over the cooked noodles and stir until all the noodles are coated with cheesy love. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle a good amount of Panko over the top. Bake 35-40 minutes until nicely golden brown and bubbly.
- While we loved this mac and cheese, it’s on the “mild cheesy flavor” side, so if you’ve got kids (or adults!) that don’t like strong cheese, they’ll probably love this one.
- When I make this again, I’m going to try adding more wine and cheese. Because you can’t have too much of a good thing, and I really want to spotlight the cheeses.
- I’d originally planned to sprinkle a blend of the cheeses over the top along with the Panko, but I had just enough to make the sauce. I’m definitely trying that next time, too.
Please excuse the bad, nighttime lighting. Hungry family wants to eat…