People are usually pretty picky about their macaroni and cheese, so the feedback I’ve gotten on this recipe was really surprising at first. This is the version that I present for the Black Pot Supper Club experience. It’s rooted in the traditional James Hemings style with lots of Parmesan and black pepper, but the addition of sherry really sets the sauce apart from what most are used to. Throw in any of your favorite noodles; I prefer rigatoni or penne with this recipe.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and butter and mix together with a fork until they form a crumbly paste. This is called a beurre manie, and it will help thicken the sauce. Set it aside at room temperature.
Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it begins to shimmer on the surface. Add the peppercorns, garlic, rosemary and thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the garlic begins to brown lightly at the edges — about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown at the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the sherry and cook, stirring to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan, until reduced by half, about 20 seconds.
Stir in the cream and Parmesan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent the cream and cheese from burning on the bottom of the pot, until reduced slightly and thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the beurre manie and continue to simmer the sauce for 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard the aromatics.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with a large pinch of salt, then add the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked al dente according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta in a colander, then return the pasta to the pot. Add the strained sauce to the pasta and stir to coat the pasta evenly with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with more Parmesan grated over the top.
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