Sunday, April 10, 2011

Really? Really! The Best Ever Mac 'n Cheese!


I'm a cheese snob. Living in Wisconsin, I think I'm entitled to a modicum of cheese snobbery. That being said, I still refuse to wear a cheesehead hat! Here are some fun cheese facts that I found here and here:


Wisconsin leads the nation in number of dairy farms - 18,000, number of cheese plants - 126 and, total U.S. cheese production - 2 billion pounds. Wisconsin is the # 1 cheese-producing state, making 26% of the country's cheese. Wisconsin cheese-makers were the originators of brick and Colby cheeses.


In celebration of cheese, I offer to you the Los Angeles Times Best Ever Mac 'N Cheese which is my favorite mac 'n cheese recipe and is, truly, the best ever mac 'n cheese.


Wisconsin cheese snob and bovine approved!


This was a 'clean out the cheese bin in the refrigerator' recipe for me so the cheeses I used are not those called for in the original recipe. Feel free to substitute your favorite blend of cheeses but a combination of a some type of cheddar and Swiss-like cheese is the best combination.

Not for every day consumption, needless to say but oh, so delicious!

The Best Ever Mac 'N Cheese

Adapted from the LA Times
Printable Recipe

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon melted butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups milk (I used fat free)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2-1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese (or Gruyere)
1/2 cup shredded Asiago
1 pound of pasta or macaroni, I used Campanelle
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half & half cream)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the panko bread crumbs with the melted butter on a small baking pan. Toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted, then stir in the flour. Stir until the mixture is blended and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Add the dry mustard, white and cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and bay leaf. Return to heat and stir until mixture begins to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf.

Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and all the Gruyère until melted. Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, stirring until all of the macaroni is coated. Pour the macaroni into a well-buttered 9- by 13-inch casserole. Drizzle heavy cream around the edges of the casserole. Sprinkle on it the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese, then the toasted bread crumbs.

Cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes. Put under a preheated broiler for 5 minutes.

40 comments:

  1. I'll take your Wisconsin word on this recipe. Looks very comforting to me. :0)

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  2. Sounds amazing Susan. I grew up on Kathleen's dreaded blue box, but have loved homemade when I've had it too. I'll file your recipe away for some special dinner.

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  3. Susan, for years my beloved Aunt Ionia would send us packages of cheese from Brennan's. I don't know if there is a Brennan's near you. We loved their baby Swiss with a passion. My mother used to make a wonderful mac and cheese (though I doubt with cream) and she did what you said cleaning out the fridge. Being a native, i do agree with you that Wisconsin cheese is the best! Your pics and your mac and cheese are the best! Joni

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  4. I don't think I've ever tasted mac and cheese as good as this looks. I can't wait to try the recipe.

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  5. Not a fan of mac n cheese since the only kind I had was the ONE in the blue box!! Maybe if I tried yours I would change my mind!

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  6. I just bought some Wisconsin Gorgonzola cheese today at a local market in Massachusetts!

    I'm definitely going to try your mac 'n cheese recipe!

    If you'd like a snack please stop by when you have a moment!

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  7. This looks so cheesy and delicious! Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food in my book, and would love to have some of this right now. I'm saving the recipe for when I need a food hug! :)

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  8. Looks fantastic to me, Susan! Mac n cheese is big in my house, but I never seem to get it right. I'll be trying this one for sure!

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  9. Sounds delicious and very cheesy! Love Colby cheese and cheese in general; this is my kids favorite. Will make it this way next time.

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  10. That "blue box" got me through college!! Now I'm grown up, it no longer appears in my pantry. I believe you--this looks like the best. To be sure, I'll be making it very soon as my cheese drawer is a bit overloaded at the moment.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  11. This looks great Susan, and even though it's not even 6AM here right now I wish I had some! About that cheesehead hat thing... I think a cheesesteakhead hat would be better! Just this Philly girl's opinion:@)

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  12. A couple years ago we were in Seattle and taste the ( World's best MAc and Cheese) at this cheese makers shop and it was really good. The recipe was similar to this but, now am keeping this one for my next mac and cheese experience. As always, your photos are bright and tempting Susan.

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  13. nice looking mac n cheese... and I love your combo of cheeses which, i'm sure must harmonise perfectly for that sharp and sweetness needed in a mac n cheese... lovely photo's too x

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  14. I never could get into wearing a cheesehead either after living in Wisconsin for 20 years!! This mac and cheese looks so good. WIll need to try this. Thanks.

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  15. I LOVE Bessie:)

    I made a MacK:) and cheese this week..not nealy as rich or as good as yours..I'll come back when I make my next one~
    Thanks Susan.

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  16. Macaroni and cheese = comfort food! Thanks for the recipe. Happy Monday!

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  17. It is definitely cheesy Susan and how can it not be delicious with all this cheese involved!

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  18. Great comfort food. I need a big bowl of that about now.

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  19. I love Mac and cheese, and this looks delicious!
    You are a loyal Wisconsiner. A true cheesehead!:)

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  20. I certainly think a gal from Wisconsin would know. I do like the idea of the topping and the heavy cream bit, though I am a gal who does not enjoy baked mac and cheese. We do love cheese around here and, being so close to Vermont, we are able to purchase delicious cheeses. I'll look for some Wisconsin cheese and do a taste test. I think you'd be adorable in a cheese wedge hat.

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  21. Susan, I can't imagine an elegant lady like yourself wearing a cheese hat... NEVER!

    The recipe looks great... never tried asiago in mac and cheese before. Rich creamy and crispy... how can that not be perfect. The photos make it look irresistible!

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  22. oh this looks yummy. I'm a sucker for a mac n' cheese recipe. and thanks for the tidbits about Wisconsin and cheese. (I most likely will never put a cheesehead hat on my head either!). on a day when I feel like I can have the extra calories, I'm trying this recipe. have a great week Susan.

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  23. Looks fantastic and I need to make this soon!!!!!!

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  24. I've never met a M&C I just did not care for nor many cheeses for the matter - it's my go to snack food and I love the product coming out of Wisconsin. While I've never had a bad M&C, I still appreciate a really good one and I look forward to trying this one.

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  25. Wow this looks so good!This would be good to make and take to any outing!

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  26. Macaroni and cheese is a top comfort food and this recipe with the different cheeses sounds so good!

    My daughter, Abbey requests this often. Sadly there isn't a way to make it lower calorie. At least not that tastes good. I just have to learn to enjoy it in smaller quantities.

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  27. cool facts on cheese and wow what a great mac and cheese thanks for listening to the show :-)

    Rebecca

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  28. Love mac n cheese! This looks so delicious, the perfect comfort food.

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  29. You are definitely living in the cheese state, Susan. There was a cheese store in Pinconning Michigan called Wisconsin Cheese something or other. We never failed to stop on our way to my grandfather's lodge.
    As far as mac and cheese is concerned, the bigger variety of cheeses, the better! :)

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  30. Susan, this mac N cheese does sound and look amazingly comforting and tasty! Gotta get some cheese for the lunch.
    Angie

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  31. Hi,
    A question. Why do you pour the heavy cream around the edges of the casserole? why not just add it to the sauce?

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  32. With all those different types of cheese, this just HAS to be a winner! It looks absolutely luscious!

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  33. Susan...I'll have to try this recipe...I have yet to find a mac and cheese I don't like...I even like the box stuff.

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  34. I was probably a little mouse in my previous life, I love every kind of cheese!
    This looks so delicious Susan....A warm hug...

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  35. Thank you very much, everyone, for your comments!

    The weather has been wonderful here the past two days so I've been outside trying to burn off the calories from the mac 'n cheese :)

    Kim, the part about the cream was in the original recipe so I included it. Perhaps it's just to keep the edges from getting too crusty but I'm not sure. I would think you could easily omit this step altogether.

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  36. I was sure I had left a comment here. I am mesmerized by this mac and cheese. IT is truly a comfort food.

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  37. Wow Susan look absolutely amazing! delicious! gloria

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  38. I just want to dig in! The panko crust on top looks like a winner!

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  39. Oh goodness this looks and sounds wonderful. Love that perfectly brown crust. I'll be giving this one a try for sure.

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