Recipe 55 – Smokin’ Mac for Two

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)

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions
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.

Mmm... Orange glop...

Mmm… Orange glop…

[edited to add picture]

Verdict: 2/5
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.

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