Ah, to think back on the macaroni and cheese of your youth. Maybe it was topped with crunchy bread crumbs and baked; maybe it was silky with Velveeta; maybe it was from that bright blue box (nothing wrong with that). No matter the variation, chances are you were pretty pumped to see it on the dinner table. And let's be real, chances are you're still pretty pumped to see it.
Here, the nostalgic dish gets an upgrade so that it can sit proudly on your grown-up table. It hits those creamy, silky notes (goat cheese gets swirled in), it's endlessly cheesy (thanks to lots of melted Gruyère) and it has a crunchy top (hello there, crisped pancetta). It's also all made in one pot. Mac and cheese for the win.
In a large saucepan or deep wide skillet, brown ½ pound of diced pancetta. Once crisp, scoop out using a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Ideally, there should be about 3 tablespoons of fat for the roux (if you feel it needs more, add a little butter and melt). Add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Slowly whisk in 2 cups of whole milk and 1 cup of heavy cream. Season with salt to taste and add ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. Stir constantly until thickened, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 4 ounces of goat cheese and 1 pound of shredded Gruyère cheese, then stir until the cheese melts and becomes a silky sauce. Remove from the heat. Add 1 pound of cooked cavatappi pasta and stir to coat. Serve garnished with the reserved crispy pancetta.
Get more twists on mac and cheese:
• This Mac and Cheese Gets Its Kick from Pepper Jack and Cayenne
• Mac and Cheese Meets Buffalo Chicken for the Best Mash-Up
• Butternut Squash and Mac and Cheese in the Same Bite