• Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 60 minutes
  • Serves: 6

Caramelized Fennel Mac 'n Cheese

  • Recipe Submitted by on

 Ingredients List

  • 1 large or 2 smallish fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced (about 4 cups sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces elbow pasta
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 3 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup grated)
  • 3 ounces gruyere cheese, grated (1 cup grated)
  • 2 ounces pecorino cheese, finely grated (3/4 cup grated)
  • 2 ounces American cheese, grated (3/4 cup grated)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, for topping


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; lightly spray with cooking spray. Toss fennel with 2 tablespoons melted butter; season with salt and pepper. Spread fennel into a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until fennel is softened and golden brown. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente (usually about 1 minute less than the package instructs). Drain, reserving some pasta water for later use.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk until frothy and no chunks remain. Slowly drizzle in milk, whisking vigorously to smooth out any chunks that may develop when the cold milk hits the hot pan. Just keep whisking and it will eventually smooth out. Continue to drizzle in milk, whisking until smooth. Whisk in heavy cream and about 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water (optional, but it’ll help thicken and smooth out the sauce). Continue to cook, whisking occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Whisk in ground mustard, fennel, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and add cheeses, a handful at a time, whisking until smooth and fully melted after each addition. Reserve a handful of cheddar and gruyere for sprinkling on top, if desired.
Fold in cooked elbow pasta and caramelized fennel until evenly coated with cheese sauce, then pour into a lightly buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle reserved cheese and breadcrumbs over top.
Broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown in spots and breadcrumbs are light golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving warm.

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