Comfort food shows no sign of slowing down in New York, and nothing epitomizes the trend more than an entire restaurant dedicated to mac and cheese. (In fact, our fair city boasts two such establishments.) Macbar, the all-yellow carb-peddling annex to Delicatessen, is a temple to baked cheesy pasta. Its chef, Michael Ferraro, shares the recipe for his Margarita Mac, incorporating not tequila and Triple Sec (in honor of National Margarita Day, which is today), but rather tomatoes, fresh basil, and whole milk mozzarella.
“Delicatessen and Macbar’s menus are based off of international comfort food, and pizza is one of my all time favorite comfort food dishes,” says Ferraro. “This recipe showcases my favorite pizza toppings incorporated into a mac and cheese recipe.”
1/4 lb. butter
4 oz. all-purpose flour
1 qt. whole milk
1/4 qt. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
7 oz. mascarpone cheese
3/4 lb. fontina cheese
3 oz. grated whole milk mozzarella
2 fresh red beefsteak tomatoes (peeled and seeded, diced small)
1 bunch fresh basil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh oregano
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 lb. cooked elbow macaroni (al dente, cooked in salted boiling water)
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and flour, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the milk and heavy cream, and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, and slowly add the mascarpone and fontina, all the while whisking until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat, and season with cayenne, salt, and pepper.
In a bowl, add the cooked pasta, cheese sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and tomatoes, reserving a small amount for the garnish. Mix the contents until the pasta is completely coated. Pour the pasta into a two-inch-deep baking pan, and cover with a thick layer of mozzarella. Bake at 400 degrees F until the top is golden brown.
Garnish with the rest of the diced tomato, tossed in olive oil and a touch of salt and fresh basil.