Mac and Triple-Cheese with Ham and Peas (If You Please)
I have had a life-long love affair with mac and cheese. Really, what's not to like? Pasta and melted cheese is a match made in Foodie Heaven. From my early encounters with powdered-cheese Blue Box Mac to my current and constant quest for new cheese and pasta combinations- the passion and commitment is very real.
When planning my menu this week, I did my typical fridge/pantry inventory for inspiration and found several intriguing remaining items from previous recipes including several cheeses, a cup of half and half, a cup of chicken broth, Canadian bacon, and (for some reason) bags and bags of frozen peas. The solution seemed obvious and I'm always up for a little culinary experimentation. Ham and peas go together as naturally as peanut butter and jelly and I think you'll really enjoy this velvety, mild cheese sauce playing off the crisp freshness of Italian parsley. I hope you love it.
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 lb. medium shell pasta
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 c. chicken broth
- 1 c. half and half
- 2 c. whole milk
- 2 c. grated mild white cheddar cheese
- 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 oz. diced Canadian bacon
- 1 lb. frozen peas
- one bunch chopped Italian parsley
- 1/2 c. plain toasted bread crumbs
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9x13" glass baking pan with cooking spray, set aside. In a large stock pot bring water to a boil to cook pasta. Boil pasta to al dente. While water is boiling, melt butter in a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender (about 5 minutes), season with salt and pepper. Add flour and whisk together with butter. Whisk constantly for 1 minute to create a thick paste. Slowly add chicken broth, whisking constantly to combine. Add half and half and milk, a little at a time, and whisk to combine until smooth. Cook over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken and can coat the back of a spoon. Add grated cheddar cheese and feta and whisk sauce until smooth. Remove from heat, add peas, Canadian bacon, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
When pasta is cooked, drain and add to cheese sauce. Stir until pasta is well coated. Transfer to prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes until top begins to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. It's a tasty dish!