macaroni and cheese

Macaroni and cheese, as made by Palazzio in Santa Barbara. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times / October 19, 2011)

Dear SOS: I was in Santa Barbara recently for a little vacation and stopped at Palazzio. Loved everything we had there, but especially loved the mac and cheese pie. It was incredibly rich, but so delicious. I'm especially curious as to what technique they use to make it so dense. Any chance you could get their recipe? Thanks!

Cynthia Crass

Los Angeles

Dear Cynthia: Palazzio was happy to share its take on this classic comfort food, folding in no less than three kinds of cheese as well as some prosciutto for a little extra love. Enjoy!

Palazzio's macaroni and cheese

Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Servings: 8 to 12

Note: Adapted from Palazzio in Santa Barbara.

2 pounds penne pasta

2 cups heavy cream

4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

4 cups shredded smoked mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

3 ounces prosciutto, diced

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bring a large pot of water to boil.

2. Add the pasta to the water and cook to al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes, or according to the package instructions. Drain.

3. While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl combine the heavy cream with 3 cups each of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, the Gorgonzola cheese, the prosciutto and the eggs.

4. After draining the pasta, turn it into a large bowl and toss with the cheese mixture to coat evenly. Spread the pasta into a 13-by-9-inch greased baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses over the pasta to top.

5. Cover the baking dish tightly with a greased layer of foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the topping is lightly browned, an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before serving.

Each of 12 servings: 725 calories; 37 grams protein; 60 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 38 grams fat; 22 grams saturated fat; 199 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 1,037 mg sodium.