Prosciutto and Pine Nut Mac & Cheese by Laura Werlin


1 Tablespoon
  plus 1 teaspoon      Kosher salt
8 ounces                   Medium shell pasta (or use orecchiette)
1/2 cup                      Sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), slivered
3/4 cup                      Pine nuts
4 Tablespoons           Salted butter
2 cups                       Toasted or stale bread crumbs (preferably homemade)    
2 ounces                    Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese,
                                         finely grated (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons            All-purpose flour
2 cups                        Whole or reduced-fat milk
1 cup                          Heavy cream
8 ounces                    Havarti cheese, coarsely grated (2-1/2 cups)
6 ounces                    Taleggio cheese, cut into bite-size chunks (2 cups;
                                          or use Fontina)
2 teaspoons               Finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon              Mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon              Cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon              Ground or freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces                    Paper-thin slices prosciutto, cut into 1/4- x 1-inch strips

             Preheat the oven to 375 F-degrees. Butter an 8-inch square (1-1/2-quart) baking dish or pan (or six 8-ounce ramekins). Set aside.
Fill a 4- to 5-quart pot about three-quarters full with water and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tender but firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and drain. Reserve the pot.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, shaking the pan constantly, until they are a light golden color. Watch carefully, because they burn easily. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.

Using the same skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Turn off the heat and add the breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pine nuts. Stir until mixed well. Set aside.
Using the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly until a paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds. Continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the mixture starts to darken slightly and smell a bit nutty. Slowly whisk in the milk, cream, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until the mixture starts to thicken and is just beginning to bubble around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the Havarti, Taleggio, rosemary, mustard powder, cayenne, and nutmeg and stir until the sauce is smooth but not too runny. It should be similar in texture to cake batter. If it’s soupy, continue cooking until it thickens.
Add the pasta and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and scatter the prosciutto strips over the bread crumbs. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the prosciutto is crisp and the mac & cheese is bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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