• 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for preparing pans
• 2 cups white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
• 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 1/3 cup diced thick cut bacon
• 1/3 cup finely diced onion
• 3 1/2 cup milk
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup grated gruyere cheese
• 2 Tbsp chopped chives
• 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 pinch ground nutmeg
• 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
• 1 lb short noodle pasta


  • 1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 8 (1-cup) ramekins and place on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

  • 2. Microwave 2 tablespoons of butter on high until melted, about 30 seconds. Add bread to melted butter and toss to combine. Add 1/4 cup cheddar cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt, toss again and set aside.

  • 3. Set a large saucepan over medium heat and add oil. Add bacon or pancetta and onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Drain excess oil, add milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • 4. In a second saucepan set over medium heat, melt remaining butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Gradually whisk in reserved milk mixture until smooth and cook, continuing to stir until mixture bubbles and thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in remaining cheeses, chives and spices.

  • 5. Cook pasta to barely al dente, as directed on package. Drain pasta thoroughly, return to pot and stir in reserved cheese sauce. Divide mixture among prepared ramekins. Top with reserved bread mixture and bake until cheese sauce is bubbling and top is golden brown, about 15. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

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