Three Cheese Balsamic Pancetta Mac & Cheese

There are certain simple pleasures in life that make me feel good. Like walking hand in hand with my son, the feel of his trusting grip against my fingers, and the methodical thud, thud, thud of his 4 year old gait, as his too-big rain boots scrape against the pavement.

This was a moment that captured me today, as we made a quick trip to the store to get the ingredients for this dish.  Dark skies and rainy weather are the perfect combination to enjoy another simple pleasure – comfort food.  Macaroni and cheese to be exact.

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board hosts a Macaroni & Cheese Blog called 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni & Cheese, and this year I contributed a recipe for their new project. Every three weeks, they post a new mac & cheese recipe from a featured food blogger on their site.  There were several themes to choose from, and I decided to go with the Decadent Holiday Recipe.

My mind came up with way too many possibilities, and I had a hard time narrowing it down to one concept. I also tried to keep it simple, yet still delicious.  I decided on a three cheese recipe that incorporates Gouda and Fontina cheese, with a crispy balsamic glazed pancetta topping – and a sprinkling of smoked Gouda for good measure. 

While this may not be the fanciest mac and cheese you’ve tried, it definitely qualifies as a delicious decadent holiday dish for me! To see my featured recipe, head on over to 30 Days 30 Ways with Macaroni & Cheese, and you'll see many more delicious recipes too.

Three Cheese Balsamic Pancetta Mac & Cheese
Serves 6-8    Printable Recipe

2 packages of thinly sliced pancetta ( 3 ounces each)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, separated
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup half and half, warmed
6 ounces gouda cheese, shredded
4 ounces fontina cheese, shredded
2 ounces smoked gouda cheese, shredded
10 ounces cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta
salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a large pot of water over high heat and cover. Roll up the pancetta slices and slice into strips with a sharp knife. In a large pan over medium heat, cook the pancetta strips until just starting to crisp, about 3-4 minutes, drizzle 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar over the pancetta and stir.  Allow the cooked pancetta to drain on a paper towel and set aside.

gouda-mac-1-for-web  gouda-mac-2-for-web  gouda-mac-3-for-web

In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, whisk in the 4 tablespoons of flour.  Continue to cook and whisk the flour for about 30 seconds.  Add the rosemary and continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the warmed milk and half and half, continue to whisk continuously so that there are no lumps. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer, stirring constantly.

While waiting for the sauce to simmer, liberally salt the pot of boiling water. Add the pasta to the water and cook for about a minute less than package directions.

When the sauce has come to a simmer, stir in the 6 ounces of gouda, and the fontina cheese until melted and the sauce is smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in about 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, or more if you want a more pronounced flavor.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drain the cooked pasta and stir into the cheese sauce until combined.

Pour the macaroni mixture into a baking dish, and sprinkle with half of the smoked gouda. Top with the cooked pancetta and then the remaining smoked gouda.

gouda-mac-4-for-web  gouda-mac-5-for-web

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and the cheese is bubbly. If the pancetta starts to get too dark, cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Serve hot.





Anonymous said...

This looks utterly unbelievable! I don't know if my husband would agree... But a girl can dream!

Belinda @zomppa said...

Mmm. I want a bowl of this, a fireplace, and a blanket, and I'm good to go.

Anonymous said...

I am going to add this to my short list of things to make. This looks and sounds so good.

PolaM said...

I love this version on Mac and Cheese, nothing like the ones out of the box thing.

Steph said...

Holy smokes!! How could anyone resist this!! I would definitely go back for seconds!

The Weekend Gourmet said...

Yum, yum...I'm a mac and cheese lover, so I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy it! Pinning...and happy holidays to you!!

Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

Oh my heavens this looks goooood!

Monet said...

I don't like my mac and cheese recipes too fancy...I like them just like this! Thank you for sharing such a comforting and satisfying recipe. I hope you are warm and full tonight. I'm about to put on a pot of soup and cozy up with a book. Love from Austin.

Kiri W. said...

Wow - this is stunning! I love mac and cheese, and balsamic sounds like a wonderful flavor twist :) Great recipe!

Nancy said...

It is cold, grey and rainy here today. Your Mac & Cheese recipe would be perfect for tonight's dinner. Congrats on the top 9!

Jen said...

Wow! I can't even describe how good this looks! Definitely bookmarking this page and trying this recipe asap. Amazing!

Adele Forbes said...

that my dear is one of the most lovely dishes I have ever seen in my job!

Sarah said...

My mouth started watering just reading the foodgawker description! This looks amazing, can't wait to try it out!

Lauren at Keep It Sweet said...

Ok, I would love to go home to a big bowl of this tonight!

LillysNLollipops said...

im a new follower! my mouth is watering this looks so good..

Amanda @ Lillys&Lollipops

Magic of Spice said...

This is such a creative macaroni and cheese recipe! Love the cheese choices and the addition of balsamic is brilliant!

Living the Gourmet said...

Mac and Cheese is the best! This sounds absolutely amazing, Amber! Your photos are mouthwatering! hungry now! Hehe...

Tammy <3

Anonymous said...

Those pictures are making my mouth absolutely WATER! This mac and cheese looks like the perfect comfort food!

Julie at Burnt Carrots said...

Oh my! I'm drooling. I've heard of bacon but pancetta sounds unbelievable!

Emily Malloy said...

Are you serious with this?!?!?!

Holy crap. Amazing.

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

This looks absolutely comforting. I really love this new twist on mac and cheese:) thank you for sharing this.

Gursahiba@ExquisiteNiche said...

Really nice recipe! Follow your blog queit often! Very Interesting!

Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels said...

Wow your mac and cheese looks soooooo good. Love the addition of the balsamic vinegar. :)

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