Mac and cheese definitely makes my list of favorite foods. Apparently it makes Oprah's too. If you missed her annual "Favorite things" episode last week, she gave away $25,000 worth of gifts to each member of the audience (and she even pays the taxes!). I need to get myself on that show. ASAP.
One of the items she featured and gave away to the audience was Beecher's "World's Best" Mac and Cheese. I knew immediately that I wanted some. But instead of buying and waiting for it in the snail mail. I decided to make my own. Luckily, Beecher's Handmade Cheeses has a plethora of their recipes online, so you can try your hand at their infamous recipes. For this dish, I used the best cheese I could find at the grocery store, since I didn't have time to order any online (although if you want to buy me a Christmas gift, I would absolutely be thrilled with Beecher Cheese...I kid, I kid).
Even though I didn't have the Beecher cheese to use, this was by far the best mac and cheese I have ever made. Thanks Oprah!
World’s Best Mac and Cheese
Adapted form Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
7 ounces good cheddar cheese (about 1 ¾ cups), grated
1 ounce good jack cheese (about ¼ cup), grated
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
3 ¼ cups penne pasta
¼ cup good cheddar, grated
¼ cup good jack, grated
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Shred your cheeses and measure out the rest of the ingredients. In my experience, it is always better to have everything measured out before starting.
To prepare the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. Stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes.
Butter or oil an 8-inch baking dish. Cook penne for 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven). Rinse pasta in cold water, drain well.
Combine pasta and sauce in a medium bowl, mix carefully but constantly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheese and chili powder.
Bake uncovered, 17 minutes, and then broil for another 3 minutes to get a crispier-browned top. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
If you are a mac and cheese lover, you will surely enjoy this dish. Rich, creamy, and full of delicious cheesiness, this dish delivers on all levels. The smokiness provided by the chipotle chili powder adds an extra layer of flavor and kick as well. There is literally nothing I would change about this recipe (except of course using Flagship cheese). However, if you don't happen to have that on hand, any good quality cheddar and jack cheese will definitely do.
I hope everyone's holiday planning is coming along smoothly. I'm so excited to see what everyone comes up with for Thanksgiving!
Happy Planning and Eating!