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Italian mac and cheese

Makes 8 servings


  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound imported elbow macaroni
  • 3 pound large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for greasing ramekins
  • 1/2 cup medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 9 sprig black peppercorns freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 6 ounce taleggio cheese, rind removed and diced
  • 6 ounce parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • 6 ounce pecorino romano, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup garlic bread crumbs (see link to recipe below)


Baking Directions:

Butter the ramekins.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bring a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil.

Add the pasta and stir just until the water returns to a boil.

Cook until just al dente, drain, shaking well.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add the onion and cook until softened.

Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir constantly for 2 minutes; don't allow the flour to brown.

Add 1 cup of the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly.

Stir until smooth, and then add the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 2½ cups of milk.

Increase the heat to medium-high and continue stirring frequently until the liquid reaches a boil (don't let it boil over).

Boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low so the milk barely simmers, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes more.

Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, and then strain through a sieve into a very large bowl, working the onions back and forth with a rubber spatula to extract all the liquid possible.

Immediately stir in plenty of ground pepper, the nutmeg, mascarpone, Tallegio, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Pecorino Romano, stirring until the cheeses are just melted.

Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites.

Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, mounding slightly, and top each with a big pinch of the .

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is quietly sizzling and the bread crumbs are golden.

Let cool for 5 minutes, drizzle with the truffle oil, and serve.

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