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sophisticated mac & cheese

There is so much to love about this mac & cheese:

  1. It’s mac & cheese for goodness sake – gotta love that!
  2. It has three fantastic kinds of cheese – provolone, Fontina, and mozzarella … no cheddar in sight
  3. No need to do a stove-top roux first – super easy
  4. It’s topped with rich beef short rib meat
  5. The meat is already cooked and prepared, ready to shred and use – EASY!
  6. Individual servings – awesome!
  7. It was a huge hit with my guys (husband, son, and Dad) last Sunday night – Manly Man Mac & Cheese!
  8. Lastly, if you made or plan to make the 3-cheese grilled cheese sandwich from yesterday’s post… this uses the same 3 kinds of cheese. Coincidence? I think not.

Yeah, this is good stuff, perfect for a family meal and special enough for guests. I purchased the prepared boneless short ribs at Costco, but I’ve noticed that most grocery stores sell pre-cooked and packaged short ribs as well. For some strange reason, the Costco package is 17 ounces, but we’ll just round it down to a pound – to make it easy. The meat also comes in a sauce, drain it off and discard, you won’t need it. You will be making an easy and much better ragù.

Easy Mac & Cheese topped with Beef Short Rib Ragù

Short Rib Ragù
1 pound package prepared short ribs, meat only, drain off any sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 cup red wine
2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced

Mac & Cheese
1 cup crushed buttery crackers (such as Ritz), plus 6 more crackers for the topping
2 cups grated provolone cheese, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cups grated Fontina cheese
1 cup grated fresh mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Short Rib Ragù: Shred the short ribs, discarding any fat and all the sauce it came packaged in. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, when hot, add onions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning and cook another minute.

Add the wine and bring to a boil, reducing until the wine is nearly evaporated.  Reduce heat and add the tomatoes stirring for another minute.

Add the shredded short rib meat and heat through. Cover and set aside while you make the mac & cheese.

Mac & Cheese: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease six 8-ounce ramekins with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the crushed crackers, 1 cup of the shredded provolone cheese, and the melted butter, mixing well. Divide the mixture evenly between the 6 ramekins.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the elbow macaroni and cook according to package directions, for about 8 minutes, drain and immediately dump into a large bowl.

Add the remaining provolone, Fontina, and mozzarella to the hot pasta in the bowl, stirring to melt the cheeses.

In a separate small bowl, combine the eggs, milk, yogurt, salt, and red pepper flakes and mix well. Add the egg/milk mixture to the cooked macaroni, mixing until all of the ingredients are melted and smooth, and well combined. Divide the macaroni mixture between the ramekins.

Top each ramekin with 1 crushed cracker. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until lightly golden on top, about 20 to 25 minutes.

During the last couple minutes of the mac & cheese baking time, reheat the ragù.  Remove ramekins from oven and top each with a large spoonful of the heated ragù.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6

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1 Marissa { 09.21.12 at 10:30 AM }

Yum yum yum. Jeff would love this!

2 Sloane { 09.21.12 at 10:47 AM }

OMG I want this! When is dinner?

3 Cindi Hancock { 12.29.12 at 11:13 AM }

YOU are fantastic! I am making this again, and everyone just loves it!

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