There are so many varieties of grown-up mac & cheese and never enough time to make them all. So many recipes call for white wine, creating a delicious fondue-style sauce, but red isn’t too common – why not?
Well, maybe a little bit because that lovely burgundy wine color mixed into cream sauce gives you purple-tinted pasta. But it’s so rich and so good that I had to share it anyway – too bad that the prime fun-food-color audience (kids) isn’t going to appreciate red wine much!
And of course with red wine you want meat, and we want bacon with everything, so let’s stir in some pancetta as well.
I used a trifecta of cheeses here – white cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan – and I have to say that they make a killer mac & cheese. This is one time I wouldn’t use a sharp cheddar, because you’ve already got so much flavor from the gruyere and parmesan and you don’t want to overpower them.
That being said, mix it up! Knowing what cheeses pair well together give you endless possibilities. A milder base with a sharp or sweet addition is a good starting point.
I liked it with a glass of the same red wine, while Kirk thought both together was a bit much. The pictures show the pinot noir I used, but really most dry reds would be great – I’m just a sucker for a pretty, colorful bottle label!
Red Wine Pancetta Mac & Cheese
- 1 lb. pasta
- 8 oz. pancetta or bacon diced
- 4 T. butter
- 1/2 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 T. flour
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 T. red pepper flakes
- 1 t. nutmeg
- 1 t. salt
- 1 cup white cheddar shredded
- 1/2 cup gruyere shredded
- 1/2 cup parmesan shredded
- Cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente, then drain and set aside.
- Sauté pancetta over medium heat until just starting to crisp, then remove from pan.
- Add butter to the pan and heat to brown. It will begin to froth and brown flecks will start appearing.
- Immediately add onions and saute until just beginning to brown, then add garlic and saute a few minutes more.
- Add flour and whisk until a roux starts to form.
- Slowly whisk in milk, then red wine, and simmer to thicken.
- Season with red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and salt.
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in cheeses until completely melted.
- Combine the pasta, pancetta, and cheese sauce. Add a little extra milk or water if the sauce needs to be thinned out.
- Serve with a glass or two of the red wine and enjoy!