Caramelized Shallots and Crispy Sage Mac & Cheese

Serves 2-3

Half a 1 lb box of your favorite small pasta (I don't remember what mine were called!)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Splash of whole milk (optional)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese (I used smoked gruyere which was super-nummy)
1/2 tsp salt (or less, to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Handful of chopped fresh sage

1. Heat olive oil + 1/2 tbsp of butter in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and saute till caramelized, for about 15-17 mins. Add garlic and saute for another min. Keep aside.

2. Melt 2.5 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for a min until mixture comes together and starts to brown. Pour in the buttermilk and cream. Bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low, then mix in the cheeses, a small handful at a time, stirring continuously till fully incorporated and smooth. Taste to check how salty it is - add salt if needed. Sprinkle in the ground pepper. If mixture looks too thick, you can add a splash of milk (I usually do). Turn off the heat and keep aside.

4. Cook your pasta per the instructions on the box. Once pasta is cooked, drain completely and add it directly into the saucepan with the cheese sauce. Mix in the caramelized shallots. Stir together well.

5. Melt the remaining tbsp of butter in a small saucepan and add the chopped sage to it. It'll only take a minute to crisp up so keep an eye on it, swirling it around, making sure it doesn't burn (happened to my first batch!). Immediately put it into the mac n cheese mixture, stirring to combine. Serve right away. Tastes just as good the next day too, but it's a risk - because you might find yourself sleepwalking to the fridge in the middle of the night to finish it off!