a Saveur recipe that I've made twice now... once with all three cheeses (that are what I guess makes it "Artisanal" instead of just mac and cheese)... Gruyère, Comté, and fontina... and a second time, over the holiday (and pictured above), with just Gruyère and fontina (using 6 ounces of each). At my mom's house near Baltimore, getting a hold of Comté requires a trip to the expensive and distant grocery store... that just wasn't all that appealing on Christmas Eve... and a difficulty in acquiring Comté is probably the situation of many home cooks who don't have Formaggio Kitchen within walking distance. While the Comté definitely adds something to the final dish, I've come to think of this as more of a "master recipe" for any béchamel based mac and cheese I make (the superior kind of mac and cheese in my view) and think you can pretty much do whatever you want with the cheeses and it will still come out great (well ok, maybe not anything). I think this is especially true if you use a kitchen scale (and you should!) since it's easy to keep the ratios the same and play around with the cheeses... and if you subscribe to Bittman's love of the food processor for cheese grating you can even cut your prep time down to practically nothing by just weighing out the different cheeses and dumping them in the food processor. It's an easy but delicious recipe that I'm glad is in my bag of tricks.
Oh, and don't be scared of béchamel... it's not hard. I swear it just sounds fancy because of the accent in there... you're just thickening milk with a roux, and all it takes is some elbow grease with a whisk to keep any lumps out. To paraphrase Julia Child: if I can do it, so can you. If you like some mac and cheese I promise you won't be disappointed by this dish.