Wednesday, May 26, 2010

World's Best Mac and Cheese

One of the things I miss most about Seattle is Pike Market. Not that I went all the time, maybe once a month at most, but just having it there made me feel very urban and sophisticated. I loved popping over, grabbing a loaf of bread from my favorite bakery, a pound of Wild Salmon from the fishmongers, and a huge bouquet of flowers and bringing it all home for a simple dinner overlooking the sound. The best part of Pike Market, though, is Beecher’s Mac and Cheese. Hands down the World’s best Mac and Cheese (ask anyone who has had it). Whenever visitors came into town, Beecher’s was a must-taste to get the true flavor of Seattle.

Here in the land of cheese, Wisconsin, I would have thought that they would have been able to top Seattle’s Finest, but it was not to be. Luckily, a little digging on the Internet revealed the holy grail of Mac and Cheese recipes. Tuesday Night has become our night for entertaining, so what better excuse than to present the Amazing Beecher’s Cheesy Pasta?

I could not get all the actual cheeses used in Beecher’s, but its not difficult to find some great ones out here. I used smoked mozzarella, cause I love a great smoked cheese, Fontina for a nice smooth sauce, and sharp cheddar to add a bite of flavor. To top it all off, I used a thin layer of cheddar/gruyere and a sprinkling of Panko breadcrumbs for a crunchy crust. I served it with a spicy honey glazed chicken, and a big green salad. MMMMMmmmmm. Perfection. 

milk roux and cheese, ready to make sauce!

mmm, look at all that cheese

cheese sauce+pasta...

the extent of my baby kitchen!

ready to pop in the oven

Crusty on the top, hot cheesy deliciousness in the middle!

Mac and Cheese
12 ounces penne pasta
4 cups Beecher's Flagship Sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup cheddar, grated
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 Tsp chili powder
1/4 Tsp Paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil or butter an 9x13 inch baking dish.
Cook the penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and set aside.

Combine cooked pasta and Flagship Sauce in a medium bowl and mix carefully but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cheeses and then the chili powder and paprika. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Cheese Sauce 
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
3/12 cups semihard cheese, (I used cheddar)
1 1/2 cup grated semisoft cheese, (I mixed smoked mozzarella and Fontina)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to three days.

Source: Adapted from Beecher's World's Best Mac and Cheese care of the Seattle PI

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