This is a favorite in our house. I'm pretty sure it would make the top of the list. Everytime I do make this dish, there is always an excitement in the air. It is a really decadent twist on a favorite and simple American staple: Mac and Cheese.
1 bag/box of Large shells; Conchiglie are among my favorites for this recipe
2 medium crisp apples
1 small or 1/2 of 1 large sweet onion
1 c. milk / half and half
4 tsp Butter
2 tsp Flour
Optional: Prosciutto (cut small mix in with onions and apples only for a about a minute or two)
Cheese: approx. 2 c. (Here is where it is up to you. I use a combo of 1 c. cheddar and
1/2 c. mozzarella and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup Vintage aged Gouda, this Gouda has a smoked and nutty flavor that is heavenly in this recipe. However, you don't have to use Gouda at all, or you can replace with Parmesan, Romano, etc.)
Start Cooking: This is a meal where you will be doing three things pretty much at once so that everything is done at the same time. Note: It is most important that the cheese sauce be the last thing done and food served directly upon it's completion.)
Start your water for boiling noodles. If using the suggested large shells use a large pot to boil so they don't get stuck together. Add a little salt to water for taste.
While water is starting to boil: Cut onions and apples into smallish cubes. And shred your cheeses. Set items aside.
Place noodles in to boil.
Over Med/Low heat (more on the low side) start to saute onions and apples in 2 tbs butter making sure to lightly soften but not burn.
In a small pot start making cheese sauce:
First you will need to make a roux (this is to thicken the sauce - you can skip this step but your sauce will not have the same consistency as the photos, the flavor will be the same however and it will still be yummy!)
Over med/low heat add and melt 2 tsp butter. Then add 2 tsp flour. Whisk and stir together for about 3 to 4 minutes to cook out the four flavor.
Add cold milk to warm roux. Stir/Whisk
Slowly add cheeses. You may need to lower your heat just a tad for it to melt nice and smoothly. (I usually put my heat between med/low and low - but keep in mind all stoves are different). Stir lightly to melt cheeses evenly.
Once cheese sauce is completely melted pour over noodles in serving dish and fold together.