Q: I would love to have the recipe for the Three-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese served at the Boathouse in Forest Park.
— Connie Forschner, Creve Coeur
A: The Boathouse is a favorite stop for St. Louisans, whether the draw is paddling the waterways of Forest Park, relaxing on the dog-friendly patio overlooking Post-Dispatch Lake, or during winter, enjoying the blazing fireplace inside.
Then there's the Three-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese, an attraction in its own right. Along with brisket sandwiches, salmon BLTs and fish and chips, the cheesy pasta is one of the restaurant's top sellers.
The Boathouse's executive chef, Ali Iglesias, has developed several recipes for macaroni and cheese over the years. This is his favorite. In early renditions, all three cheeses were blended into the sauce. "But not everyone likes blue cheese, so now we give customers the choice, blue cheese or no blue cheese," he says. "It works out, because the blue cheese crumbles on top make the mac 'n' cheese look good too."
Iglesias has two tips for home cooks who'd like to re-create his macaroni and cheese at home. "Don't overcook the pasta," he advises, because it continues to cook after being stirred into the hot cheese sauce. "And don't rinse the pasta! That washes away the starch, and then the cheese sauce won't stick to the macaroni."
Boathouse Three-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Yield: 12 cups
16 ounces elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound yellow cheddar cheese
1/4 pound Asiago cheese
1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles, optional
1. Stir 1 teaspoon salt into a large pot of water; bring a boil. Stir in macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour over butter. Whisk until completely incorporated, then continue whisking for 2 to 3 minutes as flour cooks, making sure to whisk out any lumps. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time at first, whisking in each addition before adding another. (This will take several minutes; to avoid lumps, don't rush.)
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook sauce until thick and bubbly, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream, cheddar, Asiago and 1 tablespoon salt or to taste. Cook until cheeses are melted and the sauce is piping hot, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir cooked macaroni into sauce and mix thoroughly. If needed, return to the stove for a few minutes to heat through.
5. Spoon into individual serving bowls and top with blue cheese crumbles.
Per 1-cup serving: 520 calories; 34g fat; 21g saturated fat; 100mg cholesterol; 20g protein; 36g carbohydrate; 6g sugar; 3g fiber; 555mg sodium; 505mg calcium.
Variation: The macaroni and cheese may be cooked ahead of time and served later. If making ahead, combine the macaroni and cheese sauce as directed in Step 4. Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart baking dish, cover and refrigerate. Return to room temperature, then bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Sprinkle with blue cheese and serve.
Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.