Every now and then, we find a website that speaks to exactly who we are, whether it be something temporary, like wedding planning, or something long-term, like home and garden tips.
I think All Things Mac and Cheese is that site for me.
It’s a site sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, and although I’m not from Wisconsin, I thoroughly embrace what they’re doing here: matching their cheeses with recipes so people can enjoy their cheese a variety of ways. They could have gone with grilled cheese, which is also an excellent choice, but no, they chose the often-forgotten mac and cheese. Here’s to you, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
It may not be as celebrated as Wisconsin, but New York, where I’m from, also produces a good number of cheeses. We even have a Cheese Trail. I would encourage using New York cheeses, but I think the spirit of this recipe site is to use what is local and available to you.
Smokin’ Mac and Cheese for Two (from All Things Mac and Cheese)
- 1 1/2 cups pasta shells or spirals, dry (I used corn rigatoni; this is about 4 oz)
- 2 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced (this is about 4oz before cooking)
- 1 tablespoon flour (I used brown rice flour)
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- pinch black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (this makes the sauce a fun orange)
- 3/4 cup milk (mine was skim)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin smoked gouda cheese, shredded
Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente.
Heat medium skillet to medium high and add bacon and mushrooms. Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to brown and bacon is crispy.
In separate saucepan, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, paprika and milk until combined. Heat over medium-high heat until just below a boil, reduce heat to low and stir for 1-2 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted and combined.
Combine pasta, mushrooms, bacon and sauce in a large bowl and toss to combine. Portion into 2 bowls and serve.
[edited to add picture]
I don’t know if the problem is in the recipe or the execution, but I suspect that for once, it’s not me. The biggest problem I had with this sauce was with the consistency, which was rather gluey. Already I’ve got a bit of a cheese-baby going on, and I just finished eating. The smokey flavor of the Gouda and paprika really drowned out everything else, leaving the bacon and the shiitake more as texture elements. Maybe using a non-smoked Gouda would have yielded tastier results. However, this did feed two people, exactly: Loverman and I each had a bowl, and even if there was more we would not have taken seconds.
Every now and then, I get curious about unusual ingredients. Sure, some of this can be curiosity about fancy-pants ingredients that I can never afford, like beluga caviar and shaved truffles, but more often it’s a curiosity about pretty humble ingredients. Like… What do Vienna sausages taste like? Do they taste like hot dogs, or maybe another humble ingredient, SPAM? Bologna? How are they different from cocktail wieners? Why don’t they look like other sausages?
Every now and then I decide to satisfy my curiosity and buy one of these ingredients to check it out. I still haven’t been brave enough to try out Vienna sausages, but I did happen to see this at my local grocery store:
And I decided that I must try it.
Back before my gluten-free days, I was introduced to lox on bagels, and I was surprised just how much I enjoyed it. Since this product is just smoked salmon, who’s to say it wouldn’t make a good substitute for a higher quality lox? It might not be the finest specimen, but cheese can cover a multitude of culinary sins, my friends.
Online there are a few recipes for a lox mac and cheese. I didn’t particularly like the look of any of them. So I did my best to cobble together another Weekly Mac Original!
Lox Mac and Cheese – a Weekly Mac original!
8 oz pasta – I used corn rigatoni, but elbows would work just as well
1 cup milk – I used skim, use what you have
8 oz cream cheese, cut into pieces (this is one package)
1 tin smoked salmon – my tin said it was 3.8 oz, so use something around that size
1/4 c breadcrumbs – mine were gluten-free, but if you can have gluten I’d encourage you to use rye or even onion bread for this, but just plain ol’ breadcrumbs will do fine too
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, pour milk into a small pot and warm to medium. Add cream cheese in pieces and heat slooooowly over a lower medium heat, stirring constantly to get rid of gloppiness. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you are fancy and making your own breadcrumbs, do that now. When pasta is finished, toss into cheese sauce. Open tin of salmon, be taken aback by the smell, and drain of any liquid (mine was packed in oil). Break apart salmon and stir into pasta mixture. Pour pasta into 8×8 dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 15 minutes, cool, and serve.
Confucius say beware of tinned fish.
It was way too smokey for both my and my husband’s tastes. The cream cheese sauce was too bland, needing something salty. The breading really didn’t offer much. Really the whole thing was a misstep.