Little plates pack a huge punch at Félix, a Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant nestled (deservedly) in a prime King Street location. The menu is full of widely loved classics such as soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup) and steak frites, but it also features Southern favorites with French flare such as the le poulet frit, an elegant version of a fried chicken sandwich complete with cornichons and sauce maison. Félix’s “petit plat” of mac et cheese gives the typically simple dish a French facelift with rich components like gruyère cheese and béchamel sauce, all topped off with crispy prosciutto and toasty bread crumbs. “Growing up in a French family, my maternal grandmother always made this mac and cheese for us,” says owner Félix Landrum. “It’s a great little dish and one of our top sellers.”
Félix Mac et Cheese: An Upgraded Classic Featuring Gruyère and Bèchamel
Get the recipe for the best-selling “petit plat” from a Charleston hot spot
photo: Andrew Cebulka
Mac et Cheese (YIELD: 4 to 6 servings)
2–3 slices of bread, any variety (Chef Landrum recommends brioche)
1 tsp. truffle oil
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup prosciutto, cooked and crumbled
32 oz. cavatappi noodles
4 oz. butter, unsalted
4 oz. all-purpose flour
4 cups heavy cream
1 cup gruyère cheese, grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the bread crumbs: Cut preferred bread into small pieces. Add 1 tsp. truffle oil all over, along with a sprinkle of parsley, salt, and pepper. Bake at 350° in 7-minute increments until bread is golden brown. Place in a food processor and grind into preferred consistency. Set aside.
Make the crispy prosciutto crumbles: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the prosciutto slices on the baking sheet so they don’t overlap, curling the edges like a nest so they don’t get too brown. Bake until the slices start to shrivel and turn golden brown, about 9–12 minutes. (Note: Keep your eye on it, as prosciutto can go from crisp to burned very quickly.) Set aside.
Cook the pasta: In a medium pot, bring water to a rolling boil and cook pasta per instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Make the sauce: In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Then sprinkle in the flour to make a roux, stirring gently for 3–5 minutes for even cooking.
Once you have a roux that’s light and puffy, add cream one cup at a time, continuously stirring until all 4 cups have been incorporated. Once the cream begins to thicken, fold in grated gruyère and Parmesan, along with crumbled crispy prosciutto (save a small amount for topping).
Combine pasta with sauce in the same pan.
To serve: Garnish with additional prosciutto, bread crumbs, and parsley (optional).
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