3/4 pound short pasta, such as small shells, orecchiette or macaroni
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. flour
3 cups milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pinch nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Pinch cayenne (optional)
1/4 cup mascarpone
3 cups grated aged cheddar cheese
Handful grated mild cheddar cheese, for garnishing (optional)
1 tbsp. chopped chives, for garnishing (optional)
Paprika, for garnishing (optional)
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, add butter to saucepan over medium heat. When butter melts, add onion and garlic. Cook until onions begin to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add flour and stir to combine to make a roux. Continue to cook and stir the roux, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, making sure to incorporate the roux into the milk. Continue to whisk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking frequently, until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, nutmeg, mustard powder, Worcestershire and cayenne, if using.
Remove pan from heat. Stir in mascarpone and 3 cups grated aged cheddar. Add drained pasta. Stir to combine.
Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of grated mild cheddar cheese, chopped chives and dusting of paprika, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings.