I just entered this recipe in the NH Dairy Mac & Cheese contest. I hope it wins!
Baked Italian Macaroni & Cheese
½ chopped sweet onion
1 teas. Cinnamon
½ c. water
8 oz small elbow macaroni
6 very thin slices prosciutto (about 3 ounces)
6 t. Cabot salt free butter
¼ c panko crumbs
1 t plus 2 teas all-purpose flour
1 ¼ c. Hatchland Farm whole milk
1 ¼ c. Cabot pepper jack cheese - shredded
¾ c. Cabot extra sharp cheddar cheese - shredded
½ teas freshly ground black pepper
½ teas nutmeg
¾ c seeded and chopped tomato
Preheat oven to 375F with a rack in the middle.
Place the prosciutto in the freezer for 5 minutes to make it easier to cut and line the cups with.
Put the onion, cinnamon and salt in a frying pan with the water. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes until the water has evaporated and the onion is tender. Add the 4 t. butter to the skillet and let them brown over medium heat.
In a large saucepan bring (about 4 quarts) of water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. When the pasta is al dente, reserve ¼ c of the cooking water, then drain.
Meanwhile, cut the prosciutto in half crosswise. Place 1 slice in each well of a 12-well muffin pan, pressing the prosciutto evenly into the bottom and up the sides of each well; set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small frying pan over medium heat until foaming. Add the panko and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
While the pasta is draining, rinse the saucepan and wipe it dry. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan over medium-low heat until foaming. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the flour has darkened slightly in color, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the milk very slowly, whisking it into the flour-butter mixture. Continue cooking, whisking constantly to smooth out any lumps, until the mixture simmers and thickens, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the reserved pasta water, cheese, nutmeg and pepper and whisk until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the chopped tomatoes and cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
Divide the pasta mixture among the wells of the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the toasted panko. Cook until the edges of the mac ‘n’ cheese cups are bubbling slightly and the tops are light golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the muffin pan to a wire rack and let it cool for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the perimeter of each well to loosen and remove the prosciutto cups. Serve immediately.