Meat Lovers

Italian Mac and Cheese with Pancetta

With a generous coating of grated parmesan and toasty olive oil-soaked breadcrumbs, this Italian macaroni & cheese is tantalizingly crusty on the outside. The crust, however, gives way to a luscious, soft cheese filling flecked with salty, diced pancetta and fragrant fresh basil and parsley.

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Servings: 8


  • 8 ounces pancetta
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound pasta shells
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups (1 pound) Wisconsin Fontiago Cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  •   Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup Wisconsin parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9×13-inch baking dish.

In small skillet over medium-high heat, add pancetta. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned and crisp. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and olive oil, mixing with fingertips. Set aside.

Cook pasta in salted water, about 2 minutes short of being fully cooked. Drain cooked pasta, but do not rinse. Place in large bowl.

Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Gradually add milk, whisking continuously until it reaches boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes, or until thick and bubbly.

Pour cream sauce over cooked pasta. Add cooked pancetta, Fontiago, crushed red chile flakes, salt, black pepper, basil and parsley. Stir well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with grated parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and cheese sauce is bubbling around edges.

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Semi-soft and semi-hard cheese, like Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella, should be very cold for easy grating.