Final Four Fifty-Fifty

It's Final Four Weekend with a lot of excitement surrounding these games. Who will be dishing-up the winning basket. We'll see. 

Need a perfect one-pot dish that everyone will enjoy gameday? Here's a new spin on a classic, dressed up a bit for grown-up flavor. Everyone likes macaroni and cheese. Cheddar is the common cheese of choice, but I like using Gruyere as well, to put a bit of bite in my baked mac; using the fifty-fifty cheese ratio. But feel free to use chef's poetic license and use more or less Cheddar if you like.

Cheddar & Gruyere Macaroni and Cheese 

by Chef George Hirsch | Makes 6 servings

2 Tablespoons Butter
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon hot sauce
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
2 cups half & half
3/4 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
3/4 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 1/2 pounds uncooked elbow, shells, or other small pasta

Melt Butter in a large soup pot or saucepan. Add onion, and garlic, nutmeg and sauté for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the hot sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Stir in the half & half and heat to a simmer. Slowly add the Cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until they melt and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the cooked pasta. Place in a serving dish and eat immediately or sprinkle with Mac Topping, and bake five minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

For the Mac Topping

4 Tablespoons butter, melted
6 Tablespoons bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon each fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Put your own spin on this one pot dish by adding a variety of ingredients such as:

Vegetables: peas, broccoli, or muchrooms

Meats: prosciutto, smoked baked ham, or pulled pork

Seafood: crab, lobster, or shrimp

image, © GingerBlossom | istock