Get the recipe here.
Mac and Cheese is Heaven
As I move past the age of forty at a stately pace, there are many memories that stand out for me. As you might guess from this blog, many of those memories are centered around food and the people I have enjoyed good food with. There are plenty of great dining experiences I can recount; also plenty of great dining companions. This article focuses around something slightly more humble. What dish pray tell am I speaking of? Why, Mac and Cheese of course.
Many people will scoff at the simple and wonderful glory of this dish. I am not one of them. I grew up enjoying the dish in many permutations – from various boxed varieties to homemade and restaurant versions. When I was in my single digits, my esteemed Mother and I created a recipe for the dish which she still makes for me on occasion. While I myself only barely remember the genesis of that recipe, I smile every time I see the joy on my Mom’s face when she recounts the story.
In large part, this recipe comes from my Mom. While the technique, ingredients, and flavors are very different from my Mother’s dish the way they make me feel and the enjoyment I get from the dish are all Mom. That said, there are a lot of influences I can point to regarding this dish. Chief among them would be the delicious (and now extinct) Mac and Cheese my wife and I used to get at the Thirsty Monk Pub in Asheville, NC. They used to make a decidedly wicked version with smoked gouda. Add to this my absolute love of all things blackened… And here you go.
It is most definitely not boxed mac and cheese. It is not boring mac and cheese. This is the Mac and Cheese I make for my mom.
(photos courtesy of my son Liam’s 4th birthday – your Grandson loves it, too, Mom)
This dish has a lot of moving parts but it’s less difficult to prepare than it looks. The roux is the most difficult part to prepare, and even that is pretty easy to master. Spend an afternoon on a lazy day drinking a beer or three and making this dish. You will thank me for it. Right before the food coma hits.
I like using three or four good cheeses for this dish. The Parrano cheese mentioned in the recipe is one thing I think really makes the dish. That particular cheese just really plays well off the flavors of the overall dish.
Get some good blackening and cajun spices. They really are worth the money. At some point I will probably try making up my own blend, but for now I recommend the ones mentioned in the recipe post.