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!
Not for every day consumption, needless to say but oh, so delicious!
The Best Ever Mac 'N CheeseAdapted from the LA Times
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.