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Super Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy Charlie Palmer, Charlie Palmer’s Casual Cooking, William Morrow, 2001

3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup minced celery
2 tablespoons instant flour
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, heated
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup grated sharp white cheddar
1/2 cup grated Fontina
3/4 pound elbow or tube macaroni, cooked and well drained
Hot sauce
Coarse salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, optional
3/4 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 2-quart casserole; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and celery and saute for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft. Lower the heat and stir in the flour until well incorporated. Whisk in the hot half-and-half and then the wine. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture has begun to thicken. Remove from the heat and beat in the cheeses, stirring until they have melted into the sauce.

Stir in the macaroni and season, to taste, with hot sauce and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole.

If using the Parmesan, combine it with the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the macaroni. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling and the top is golden. Serve hot.

Note: To lower the fat in this recipe, replace the half-and-half with 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk plus 1/4 cup nonfat yogurt and the cheeses with reduced-fat cheese. When lowering fat in a cheese-based recipe, you will often lose flavor, but flavor can be enhanced with the addition of finely minced fresh herbs or chili peppers.

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

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