I’m not joking when I say this is the “World’s Best Mac & Cheese.” If Oprah says it, then it is so! Besides the original Starbucks, the Beecher’s cheese shop is one of the biggest attractions at Pike Place in Seattle. There is always a line out the door, and if you ever get the chance, be sure to stand in it… for there is a pot of GOLD on the other end. Cheesy gold… in the form of Macaroni and Cheese!
Beecher’s hand-makes their cheeses in true artisan style. We like to buy a block of the “Flagship” cheese and eat it straight-no-chaser… ok, there’s often a wine chaser! It’s also fantastic in a grilled cheese or panini. But if you really want the cheese to shine, you best be puttin’ it in a Mac & Cheese casserole!!!
Unfortunately, I can’t be running down to Pike Place every time my husband or I get a craving for some high-end comfort food. Luckily, they sell Beecher’s cheese in almost every grocery store around these parts, so if you have the recipe, it’s easy to make a dish at home.
I tried my hand at making it for the first time this week. As with any copycat attempt, it’s never as good as the original (you just can’t replicate a masterpiece, people!), but this was darn near as close as they come.
If you’re not in the Seattle area, you can buy most of Beecher’s products online and have them shipped to your house. Even the Mac and Cheese Now that’s something to kiss the mailman about!
RECIPE FROM BEECHER’S HOMEMADE CHEESE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
7 ounces Flagship cheese, grated (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 ounce Just Jack cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
6 ounces penne pasta (about 3 ¼ cups)
1 ounce (1/4 cup) Flagship cheese, grated
1 ounce (1/4 cup) Just Jack cheese, grated
¼ to ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder Instructions
1. Prepare Sauce: melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour.
Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.
Cook until 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. Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or oil an 8-inch baking dish. Cook penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.)
Rinse pasta in cold water and drain well.
3. Combine pasta and sauce in a medium bowl; mix carefully but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheeses and then the chili powder.
4. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.