Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara

When Bobby Flay decided to tackle mac and cheese for one of his Throwdown! challenges, he set off for Philadelphia to go head-to-head with soul food queen Delilah Widner, of Delilah's. While Flay proclaimed her famous mac and cheese to be outrageously delicious, it's not for the faint of heart. She folds in seven cheeses (Velveeta!), half a dozen eggs, a stick of butter, and three cups of half-and-half. Instead of going the traditional mac route, Flay decided to add a few ingredients from an equally starchy, rich dish, pasta alla carbonara.

Flay threw crisp pancetta and thyme into his custardy, cheesy béchamel with Asiago, Fontina, American and Irish cheddars, and Parmesan. But it was the crisp, lightly browned crust plus intensely cheesy flavor that won the judges over and ended up clinching the victory for Flay.

I whipped up panful of Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara at home recently, adapted from Bobby Flay's Throwdown!, and I loved the notes of garlic, pancetta, thyme, and parsley in the dish. Those little extras took it from a basic casserole of cheesy baked pasta (not that there's anything wrong with that!) and transformed it into a dish that was deeply flavorful, a bit more sophisticated, and much of a main than a side.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Bobby Flay's Throwdown! to give away this week.

Adapted from Bobby Flay's Throwdown! by Bobby Flay. Copyright © 2010. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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