Flash back – way, way back, to August of 2012.
The Mac & Cheese Chick was plugging away at the blog, testing and reviewing mac and cheese recipes and creating her own for posterity (and, of course, for the blog). One day, she was contacted by Stephanie Stiavetti. Steph was looking for recipe testers for her new book. After picking herself up from beside the chair from which she’d fallen, the Mac & Cheese Chick excitedly accepted. And after testing a wonderful recipe that included fresh ricotta and raspberries and providing feedback, the Mac & Cheese Chick was to be forever linked (in her mind, anyway) with the progress of the new book: Melt – The Art of Macaroni And Cheese. To her, it was like meeting mac and cheese rock stars – and she even got an autograph!
Back in the present, it is now autumn and Steph and Garrett are gearing up for the new book to hit the shelves and take cooks and chefs everywhere by storm. The photography, according to their blog, is simply amazing – and I cannot wait to see how the book looks! After being tantalized by Facebook and email updates from Steph, the day finally arrives and I receive the most wonderful surprise in the mail: my very own copy of Melt! Ohboyohboyohboy.
I curl up in my favorite purple chair by the window and peruse the book, lamenting the fact that it arrived after I’d eaten lunch and pondering if it was too decadent to whip up one of the new recipes anyway for a second lunch. Fitting in to my jeans won out over decadence, but by the time I finished reading Melt it was so dog-eared from all the recipes I wanted to try that it didn’t quite close flat anymore.
I decided I wanted to try the Red Hawk Macaroni with Prosciutto and Raspberry Jam. After looking in several local shops and online in vain for a wheel of Red Hawk, I contacted my local cheese monger, Holly, at Savour. She did some additional research and after speaking with the folks at Cowgirl Creamery, learned that this year’s Red Hawk distribution was limited to their local area. I could hear the Soup Nazi screaming, “No Red Hawk for you!!!” in my head. Now what? Holly took some time researching Red Hawk alternatives and found that Meadow Creek Dairy’s Grayson cheese might be a great substitute.
Isn’t it beautiful? This lovely little baby had an amazing, earthy scent that defied its wrapping and wafted up at me on the drive home from Savour.
I gathered my ingredients, including the four Le Creuset cassis ramekins that you see here. To start, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and cooked the elbows per package directions (al dente), then drained and popped it back into the large pot in which it was cooked.
While the pasta was cooking, I chopped the Grayson into small chunks,
and chopped the prosciutto as well.
I then added the cheese and prosciutto to the elbows, stirred, then seasoned with salt and pepper.
Into the Pammed ramekins!
And top each ramekin with heavy cream. Slide them gently into the oven, and 35 minutes later, you have this.
Looks mouth-watering, right? Yeah. Bet you wish your computer had smell-o-vision. Hellooooo, cheesy-gooey-chewy goodness.
Here it is pre-jam.
Some of you may scoff at the idea of topping this little lovely with raspberry jam but trust me, Steph and Garrett know of what they speak: don’t leave off the dollop of jam!
In a word: decadent. Details? Earthy, delicate cheese-funk, slightly salty when you get some of the prosciutto. And the sweet of the jam balances the pungency of the Grayson perfectly. It’s like the ingredients got together and did a three-way tango in my mouth.
Here is the recipe, direct from Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 full wheel red Hawk, rind intact, chopped into chunks (I used Grayson instead, about 10 ounces)
- 4 thin slices prosciutto, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons raspberry jam (plus more per your indulgence)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix pasta, cheese, and prosciutto. Sprinkle with salt and a few good turns of the pepper grinder. Toss until well combined.
- Lightly oil four 8-ounce ramekins (I Pammed four 7-ounce ramekins instead) and fill them with equal amounts of the pasta, cheese, and prosciutto mixture. Add a scant ½ cup of cream to each ramekin.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place your ramekins onto the sheet. Slide into oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until the cream has thickened into a nice gratin. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. The cheese is supposed to bubble over the edges of the ramekins - that's part of the charm of this dish. And it's why you lined the baking sheet with foil.
- Top each ramekin with 1 tablespoon raspberry jam before serving. Add more spoonfuls of jammy goodness if you see fit.
If this is just one of the recipes in Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, I cannot wait to cook my way through the rest of it. I can already tell it’ll be a well-worn workhorse in my cooking arsenal.
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