We love using Rigatoni in this classic dish - it's wider than Macaroni (think supersized cheese filled pockets) and has a coarser outer texture allowing for all the gooey cheese sauce to cling to it. Plus, we've added even more deliciousness to this recipe by topping it off with buttery, cheesy, herb infused breadcrumbs!
MAKES FOUR SERVINGS
In a large sauté pan, combine the shallot, bay leaf, herbs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and milk. Make sure the shallot is cut-side down. Infuse over the lowest heat possible for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the temperature so that the milk doesn’t simmer.
Meanwhile, start the topping by adding the tablespoon of butter and olive oil to a small pot, along with the mixed herbs and the smashed garlic cloves. Place over low heat, to melt the butter and infuse all the flavors together. When the butter has melted, turn the heat off, but keep in a warm place so the butter doesn’t solidify again, and the flavors continue to meld.
Once the milk has infused, remove the shallot, bay leaf, and herbs with a slotted spoon. Add in ½ cup butter, and turn up the heat to medium low, allowing the butter to melt slightly, then whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk often, breaking up any clumps of flour, to allow the sauce to thicken and become smooth, about 10-12 minutes.
Bring a pot of heavily-salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni for 9-10 minutes, until al dente, then strain.
Preheat a high broiler.
While the pasta is cooking and the sauce is thickening, prep the breadcrumb topping. Add the breadcrumbs to a bowl, and strain the herby garlicky butter/oil in. Toss well, so that the breadcrumbs are evenly coated, then add in ¼ cup of each cheese, and toss again. Set aside.
When the sauce is thick, remove from the heat and whisk in the rest of the cheese. Fold in the rigatoni, then top with the cheesy breadcrumbs. Place under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until the top is golden and bubbling. Serve immediately!
Note: When infusing the milk, you can place the herbs in cheesecloth or a teabag to make removing them easier.