Melt: The Art of Macarni and Cheese by Stephanie Stiavetti.

Melt: The Art of Macarni and Cheese by Stephanie Stiavetti & Garrett McCord. Photo by Matt Armendariz.

My friends Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes  The Culinary Life blog, and Garrett McCord, who writes the blog Vanilla Garlic, are publishing their very first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, on that all-but-infallible pairing of pasta and cheese. When they asked me to write the foreword, I groaned. This is exactly the kind of cookbook we don’t need more of, I thought to myself. But then I read it, and thought this is exactly the kind of cookbook we need, this nation that has so readily accepted orange flavoring packets to stir into their food. Stephanie and Garrett attempt to raise this often thoughtlessly prepared dish to its highest possible level by asking us to take more care with it, to use excellent pasta and excellent cheese. This is not only a book filled with excellent info on cheeses and pastas and great recipes (photography is by Matt Armendariz), it’s yet another hopeful example of the way American cooks are raising the quality of the food we eat.

To promote this book, the publisher has sent me three copies to give away. All you have to do is tell me in the comments what your favorite or most exciting version of mac and cheese you’ve ever had and why it was so memorable (include a working email, obviously). Winners will be chosen at random, but I’m genuinely eager to hear what your best mac and cheese was (mine, it should be no surprise, was the lobster mac and cheese at the French Laundry in 1998).

Congrats, Stephanie and Garrett! Melt is terrific!

Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage, and Macaroni

Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage, and Macaroni

 

Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage, and Macaroni

  • 1 sugar pumpkin, or other sweet variety (not a carving pumpkin), about 5 pounds
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ pound mild Italian pork sausage
  • 4 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 5 ounces Fontina, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 ounces Gruyère, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Fontina is a creamy, woodsy, Alpine-style cheese . There are m any varieties of Fontina, from Swiss to Italian, with some fine specimens even coming out of Wisconsin. Each has its own unique profile, so be sure to taste them all and pick the one that you like best. Regardless of which you choose, you will get a nice semihard texture and subtle mushroomy flavor. It just so happens that Fontina pairs beautifully with the sugary flavors of a good baking pumpkin. This recipe, baked inside the pumpkin—a trick inspired by Dorie Greenspan and Ruth Reichl, both famous for their stuffed-pumpkin recipes (among other things)—simply knocked our socks off with flavor and a stylish yet homey presentation.

Although best with Fontina and a touch of Gruyère, another Alpine favorite, this recipe is flexible and can use whatever cheeses, meats, onions, or extra pasta you have on hand. Feel free to experiment. We particularly like Valley Ford’s Estero Gold or its Highway 1 Fontina, as well as Roth Käse’s MezzaLuna Fontina. If you want to try something radical, a creamy blue cheese like Buttermilk Blue or Cambozola will do nicely too.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/178°C. Cut a circle from the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle, the way you would cut open a pumpkin to make a jack-o’-lantern, and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and strings as best you can. Generously salt and pepper the inside of the pumpkin, pop the top back on it, place it on a rimmed baking dish (since the pumpkin may leak or weep a bit), and bake for 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. If the sausages are in their casings, remove the meat and discard the casings. Crumble the sausage meat into small chunks and cook until lightly browned. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Discard the drippings, or save for gravy or what have you.
  3. Also while the pumpkin bakes, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process.
  4. In a bowl, toss together the Fontina, Gruyère, sausage, pasta, scallions, and herbs. Once the pumpkin is done baking, take it out of the oven and fill it with the macaroni and cheese. Pour the cream over the filling. Place the top back on the pumpkin and bake for 1 hour, taking the top off for the last 15 minutes so the cheese on top of the filling can properly brown. If the top cream still seems a bit too wobbly and liquid, give it another 10 minutes in the oven. The cream may bubble over a bit, which is fine. If the pumpkin splits while baking, as occasionally happens, be thankful you set it in a rimmed baking dish and continue to bake as normal.
  5. Allow the pumpkin to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Be careful moving the dish, as the pumpkin may be fragile. You can serve this dish two ways: Cut it into sections and serve them, or just scoop out the insides with scrapings of the pumpkin flesh for each serving. Either way is just dandy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

Wine pairings: white Rhône Valley blends, Viognier, oaky Chardonnay, champagne

Additional pairings for the cheese: apples, toasted walnuts, toasted hazelnuts

 

Winners of the Melt giveaway are:

  • Susan B, of New York City
  • Mildhe of Texas
  • Terry S., of Clinton NY

Thanks all for reading and taking the time to comment!

If you liked this post, take a look at these links:

© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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145 Wonderful responses to “Melt, a Giveaway, and Pumpkin Mac & Cheese”

  • Marc Johnson

    Favorite M&C was a box of generic elbow macaroni cooked and mixed with both cheddar and provolone cheese and baked with a covering of panko and crumbled up jimmy dean sausage. Obviously not very special, but was VERY good.

    P.S. Worst was the smell of my old roommate making tuna mac and cheese – thought someone dumped a load of dirty socks in the kitchen.

  • kristin

    whole wheat pasta, manchego, pepperjack and blue cheese and a crispy top, either potato chips or panko.

  • Jamison

    While I do love the orange goo in the foil packet that comes in the Kraft releases, I’d have to go with the goat cheese mac and cheese that is my mother’s go to for weddings/funerals/dinner parties. She won’t give me the recipe, insisting that at best, I’ll screw it up…

  • Leafyeb

    My favorite was the lobster mac and cheese I made for my little girl. Just a box of Annie’s mac and cheese, with extra cheese and some lobster, because I was exhausted, otherwise it would have been homemade. It was delicious, but my favorite part was dinner with my daughter.

  • Derek

    The most exciting version I’ve ever made was a recipe I got from Cook’s Illustrated using American “cheese” of all things. I thought it was pretty damn good, but it was a fair amount of work and my then-girlfriend (now-wife) wasn’t as impressed. I need to get this book so I can get my act together and impress my wife.

  • Jeannie

    Quite frankly any of the The Southern Mac Food trucks offerings here in CHI-town. They had a pimento mac made with the real thing not those tiny red things in a jar, that was really good.

  • dani

    elbows with cheddar and american. as simple as it is, the basic mornay sauce was the very first thing my mom and grandma taught me how to make, and it began my lifelong love of cooking . despite all the delicious variations i’ve made since, this one brings me back home.

    • ruhlman

      if people knew how simple it could be, they’d make it more themselves, and then keep stepping it up as steph and garrett do.

  • Melissa

    Before I explored cooking techniques or knew about Ruhlman’s Twenty or Ratio I would often dress up boxes of Annie’s mac & cheese by adding thinly sliced leaves of kale with browned sausage and copious amounts of cayenne pepper, diced chipotles, or some other variation of hot sauce. I would try to just eat a single serving but something about that combination made it hard to stop until I’d often eaten the whole bowl. The fact that it contained kale made me feel slightly better about myself :)
    Since then, I’ve graduated onto making the mac & cheese with soubise out of Twenty and am enjoying variations of that.

  • Mark

    Dinosaur BBQ’s mac. Dinosaur is a BBQ place in my hometown and there mac n’ cheese is really rich and cheesy – just love it!

  • Laurie

    I don’t think it matters what my favorite mac & cheese was because I feel pretty certain as soon as I make this pumpkin version it will be my new favorite!

  • Merna

    Hatch chilis added to a three cheese mac ‘n cheese elevates the dish to new heights.

  • Hillary

    My most memorable mac & cheese was the first time my bff and I attempted to take her then-toddler to lunch. I’ll never forget the look on the staff’s faces when we asked them to put the mac & cheese in the freezer because it was too hot.

    I think I’ll be making the pumpkin one above on Saturday. Yum.

  • Sherri

    My most memorable, and go-to macaroni and cheese recipe comes from my mother-in-law. It is a custard style m&c. You layer cooked ziti with extra sharp cheddar, and cover with a milk and egg mixture. Top with some grated parmesan cheese, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper, and bake. It’s very different than macaroni and cheese made with a bechamel, but I think it’s the best.

  • Susan

    Mac and cheese preferences seem to form in childhood..as do grilled cheese sandwiches. There’ve been a lot of new versions of grilled cheese sandwiches lately that have opened my mind, so it’s about time mac and cheese grew up, too. The one that I loved was a creamy baked version where the pasta was large and semi collapsed by the over cooking of the pasta, I presume. Still, it had some texture from it and the breadcrumb topping, but it was the sauce that I loved. There was a bit of a bite to it, as if sharp cheddar were mixed with emanthaler and sour cream and a hint of a sharp mustard. Gads, it was so good.

  • Marc B

    Mac and cheese was my opening into cooking. I was about ten, and it was my job to make dinner for me and dad on Fridays. (Mom worked late Fridays, and my sister was usually at her friends) He would get up and I’d make dinner before he went in to work at 9. We were out of blue boxes, so I got the BH&G cookbook out and started there. Béchamel, shred cheese with box grater, and some swiss and muenster slices, top with potato chips and bake. Made a good mess, but dad did take the rest in for his lunch.

  • Jason

    One of my favorite Mac & Cheese is from Silvertone in Boston, deliciously gooey with I believe is a mix of chesses including cheddar with warm crisp buttered crumbs on top. I am most fond of my grandmother’s classically simple American Cheese version with Italian breadcrumbs (memories). I make a combination of the two with 4+ cheeses: American (for my Gram) Cheddar (for boldness) and some Munster, Asiago and Grated Romano. I start my rue with a pinch of nutmeg & dry mustard and I love coarse black peeper. I top it off with a mix of my own seasoned Italian crumbs (no store bought) and buttered panko with sliced scallions. (sometimes I add peas, or bacon or Guanciale or a couple of dashes of Frank’s Hot Sauce!)

  • lorainlouavul

    ANY mac n’ cheese made with a bechamel! My ex’s grandmother used to make this fabulous mac n’ cheese and the recipe went to the grave with her- so sad- I liked her and loved her mac n’ cheese. The absolute worst- my poor mother- any dry pasta leftover in the pantry and pits and pieces of poor quality cheese- never enough cheese, and the only redeeming thing was the use of canned milk- and real butter.

  • AmandaK

    The bacon mac ‘n’ cheese at Rye here in KC – so good paired with their pan fried chicken with a brown pan gravy. Seriously good. I take all my friends there.

  • ChrisMN

    Used to hate mac n’ cheese – blue box was awful tasting. Then I tried it at a restaurant in Gaitlinburg of all places – it was creamy, had some hot peppers, and it was superb.

  • Laura Jane

    The recipe that got me into making homemade mac and cheese is Ina Garten’s. It included gruyere and cheddar cheeses (and a bechamel, because of course), and I believe this might have been my first introduction to gruyere, for which I am eternally grateful.

  • Deanna

    My go to traditional macaroni and cheese is a recipe I got from an ex-boyfriend’s mom. I refer to the recipe as the only good thing about dating him.

    The best macaroni and cheese I’ve had in recent memory was at Chapter One in Orange County, CA. It’s hard to go wrong with white cheddar, fontina cheese, bacon and caramelized onions.

  • Suzi D

    Best mac & cheese I ever had was at Max & Dylans in downtown Boston. It was a lobster mac & cheese, and the kitchen was amenable to our request for some added truffle oil, which makes everything better.

  • Joanie

    I’m a fan of just about any combo of macaroni and cheese and make a pretty darn delicious version, but the most memorable one was the first time my youngest daughter made “non-blue box,” from scratch and everyone at the table said it was the best they’d ever eaten. I proudly passed the mac ‘n cheese torch to her, and look forward to her developing even more skills in the kitchen!

  • Cameron

    The best mac and cheese was at this year’s BBQ and Blues Festival here in New Orleans where Squeal BBQ served a bacon and jalapeno mac and cheese.

  • Emily

    My favorite mac and cheese recipe to make on a weeknight is Annie’s white cheddar and shells with thin strips of kale tossed in and black pepper grated on top. Simple and yummy.

  • Becca

    My favorite Mac&Cheese is my mom’s with sausage and cheddar bechamel. She’s told me the recipe a million times but it never tastes as good as when she makes it! Mac & Cheese is definitely on my list of recipes to perfect for my repertoire, so I’d love to win the cookbook!

  • Teruska

    Lobster mac n cheese. My mom’s mac n cheese. My friend, Deb’s mac n cheese. It depends on what kind of comfort I need. ;-)

  • Eric

    I made a batch recently with sodium citrate so the mix of cheddar and gruyere was just silky smooth. I also sprinkled in bits of homemade guanciale. I’m getting hungry thinking about it.

  • Prick With a Fork

    Best mac and cheese ever were Tom Colicchio’s deep-fried golf balls of the stuff back at the old Craft on my first trip back to the US in five years. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad mac and cheese.

  • Coffee + Champagne

    Hands down, the Lobster Mac & Cheese at Todd English’s Olives in NYC. The lobster is heaping and the cheese is creamy while still perfectly coating the large delicious macaroni. (I would eat it again, right now! yum)

  • Robert Bigot

    Best max and cheese ever was home made w bits of Brie sharp cheddar and smoked Gouda with butter soaked cheese-it’s on top.

  • Kevin

    My wife’s (girlfriend at the time) homemade mac and cheese. It was the first mac and cheese I ever ate that didn’t come out of a box.

  • Dan in WNY

    My wine guy conducted a blind tasting of 8 Cabernet Sauvignons, and I needed to supply complementary foods (beef, cheese, chocolate) to demonstrate which Cabs were most food-friendly. For the cheese, we decided to make mac & cheese, and tested it with 4 different cheeses: Asiago, Fontina, Gouda, and Gruyere.

    The Gruyere was by far the best with the Cab. We also loved the Asiago, but is was all wrong with the Cab. The big surprise was how great it was with a Sauvgnon Blanc.

  • Kevin

    So, I feel bad, but my favorite has always been Kraft Mac n Cheese. But, if you don’t make it right, it turns out terrible. How about my worst story? I started dating, my now-ex wife. She was one of 12 kids. As such, the kids would cook things, because mom was kind of busy. Being one of the older kids in the family, meant that she had been cooking for years. One day after we were living together, she made some Mac and Cheese (always one of my favorites). So, she tossed some water in a pan, then tossed in the macaroni after it started boiling. Finally, after it was over, she poured the packets of cheese in. No draining, no butter/milk… just a BUNCH of water, and a cheese packet. It was atrocious. I still shudder thinking about that day.

  • Lizzie

    Definitely the Pepperjack mac and cheese from Short’s brewery in Bellaire, MI. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for weeks.

  • Norma

    My favorite Mac and cheese is nothing fancy, but it is very special. I worked for a while at a preschool. Two older ladies cooked a hot lunch everyday for the students and teachers. I loved their simple stovetop Mac and cheese they made from scratch. You could taste the love that went into that dish and each bowl was served with a smile. I’ve tried recreating it at home, but I’m missing the special ingredient of Miss Nina’s and Ms. Patty’s love.

  • dominique

    Best high end mac and cheese was a simple side dish at Sel de la Terre in Boston of truffled mac and cheese. Smoothy silky, woodsy, aromatic, ultimate comfort food. Best low end mac and cheese was after climbing down and up the Grand Canyon in one day, hitting our campsite after long hot showers, famished. Created a fast mac and cheese (using our headlights for light) with tuna, parmesan, cream, fresh ground black pepper, and pasta. Pasta has never tasted so good.

  • E. Nassar

    A barbecue joint in Jacksonville FL called Munroe’s makes great old fashioned mac and cheese. I always get it with their great ribs and fried/smoked wings. It’ not fancy but it is damn delicious, and then they went and introduced fried wedges of the stuff. Now I never know which one to get. Anyways, I love mac and cheese in all guises, but this one stands out as hitting all the right spots.

  • Bronx

    smoked gouda and gruyere from a food truck, steaming and delicious in the cold wind alongside the east river

  • BBQKing

    Gruyere, smoked cured jowl, farfalle…I made this recently and loved it

  • Rich

    Another vote here for the baked custard style mac & cheese made with extra sharp cheddar, large elbows, eggs and milk. The chewy peppery layer of baked cheese on top gives way to elbows filled with and surrounded by fluffy cheddar custard. Blows away bechamel and breadcrumbs IMO.

  • Gavin

    Most exciting mac n cheese in my life is the sausage and gruyere bechamel that my girlfriend makes. One of the reasons I love this time of year.

  • Maria

    I’m never happy with the results of mac and cheese made from scratch. I always think it’s missing something, that is until I made the lobster mac and cheese from The French Laundry. Truly amazing! I can’t enjoy regular mac and cheese anymore because I’m always comparing. A close second and a more traditional preparation is the mac and cheese from Captain Mac, a food truck in DC. The topping is made of cheez-its.

  • Greg

    My favourite is classic aged cheddar mac & cheese with extra grated cheese on top (no bread crumbs for this guy please). It reminds me of childhood meals with my grandfather.

  • Gene

    My go-to is the Best Recipies (Cooks Illustrated) stove top mac and cheese. I use that recipe as my base and play with cheeses, but in the end, a good sharp cheddar always wins.

  • Laura Everage

    Determined not to fall into the boxed mac and cheese trap, I spent a lot of time searching for recipes that my four kids would like just as much as us adults! When I tried a Leek Mac & Cheese recipe from Food & Wine (made with Manchego) everyone enjoyed it. Now Mac & Cheese night is no longer an ‘Us vs. Them” affair. Any recipe that that gets no complaints from the kids, gets five stars from me (oh, and I get my Manchego fix, too!)

  • Brian Matheson

    I’m lucky enough in the Northwest to be able to go to Beechers, so that’s near the top of my list. But one of the best I’ve ever had is last fall, I was lucky enough to hit a patch of king bolletes. The ones that were still good I dry fried, added some pancetta, and used the fat from that to make a roux for baked mac and cheese with thyme and nutmeg. That and some really sharp aged cheddar to hold up against the bolder flavors, and a small amount of monterrey jack for melting (about 3:1)

  • Jen

    Mac and cheese is one of my favorites…I have eaten quite a lot of the blue box in my lifetime but I’m a convert to homemade now. I must have a crunchy breadcrumb topping, that’s the best part! I have to agree that it’s really not that hard to make yourself and now if I have a bite of the boxed stuff it just tastes way too salty for me.

    I like a plain version just fine, with cheddar and parmesan (or any other combination of cheeses really), but I also like it with mushrooms.

  • James

    It’s certainly a pillar of American gastronomy, but a whole book devoted to macaroni and cheese seems excessive. Do you really need more than a single recipe for sauce mornay?

    And such a tragic waste of lobster in the above comments.

  • Amber

    I’m a big fan of un-fancified mac and cheese…I prefer plain old cheddar and maybe a little pork. I love when restaurants do that instead of what seems to be a trend to use fancy cheeses and weird meats. The exception is the time I had duck sausage in mac and cheese with a white cheddar sauce (and penne) but it was perfect.

  • May

    I used to make gallons of the stuff when working at a sweet little village bakery: we put in TONS of good Canadian Cheddar, standard dry macaroni, and lots of cream, and we couldn’t keep it on the shelf. The owner wanted to get out of selling it (we were a *bakery*, after all!), but it didn’t matter how much we hiked the price (when I left it was $25 for an 8″ square foil pan) people would buy it. It was really yummy, though.

    If this were a fan-vote, I’d give a copy of the book to “Prick On A Fork,” surely one the world’s nuttier noms-du-plume!

  • Dawn | KitchenTravels

    Tragically, I cannot have dairy. And while I could do without milk and ice cream, the loss of real cheese was what hit me hard when I cut dairy out of my diet 20+ years ago. So, my favorite mac & cheese has to be the first non-dairy version I ever made from scratch: penne, Bechamel, nutritional yeast, grated “cheese,” breadcrumb topping, baked in the oven. Was it the same as “real” mac & cheese? No. Was it gooey/crispy/delicious nonetheless? Absolutely. Would love to have a copy of this book, since I still make the real stuff for my friends and family. :)

  • May

    Yes, well, that’ll show me: more haste, less speed.

    MY favourite mac n cheese has sliced tomatoes on the top, then grilled, although when we were kids and my mum made it, we made it “posh” by drowning it in ketchup.

    And it’s Prick WITH a Fork, not ON a Fork. Sorry!

  • Judy

    Many years ago, Dionne Warwick’s recipe for mac and cheese was published in a women’s magazine. It was fantastic. The mac was boiled in milk before it went in the oven. Now I have to dig through my file folders to find it.

  • NancyRing

    The richest I ever had was at Tipperary Pub in Lakehurst NJ – multiple cheeses, bacon, crushed cheez it topping finished with a fried egg. My favorite is my bacon cheeseburger Mac and cheese topped with buttered panko!

  • Erin G.

    My mom would make me special occasion “fondue” dinners when I was kid using her welsh rarebit cheese sauce recipe. I always loved how the next day we would use the leftover sauce to make mac n’ cheese with little smokies stirred in.

  • christina

    The best mac and cheese I ever had included gruyere and fontina, and crispy breadcrumbs. Loved the nutty flavor and contrasting texture of crunch and goo.

  • Cynthia

    My favorite was served at Drover’s Tap Room in Greenwich Village. The restaurant is no longer there, but the recipe lives on in the book “Recipes from Home” by David Page and Barbara Shinn.

  • Erica C. Barnett

    I know this isn’t TECHNICALLY mac and cheese, but after a childhood of tuna helper, the white cheddar-and-bechamel-based tuna noodle casserole in the 1997 Joy of Cooking (RIP) was an absolute revelation.

  • Steve

    Smoked gouda mac & cheese with crumbled bacon and topped with lobster chunks……Mmmmmmmm

  • David Tucker

    Although I have to put in a plug for mine, the best restaurant version I’ve had is Todd Gray’s at Equinox in Washington DC (truffled mac and cheese that highlights the quality of the cheddar and adds a subtle earthy undertone).

  • terri

    i don’t know if i can pick one–but it wasn’t until a friend made a mac and cheese with chorizo and a crispy bread crumb topping that i realized there was so much more to mac and cheese!

  • Donna

    My very favorite mac ‘n cheese has to be at Knob Hill restaurant at the MGM hotel in Las Vegas. I think there are truffles in it. It’s eyes-roll-to-the-back-of-your-head delicious.

  • Chris

    I too like it simple. Cheddar and Jack is how I usually make it. Sometimes I put sauteed mushrooms and sausage in at the request of my wife.

  • Betty

    My niece (age 6 at the time) ordered the mac-n-cheese at Jiko, an African themed restaurant at Disney (quite good, actually). The dish wasn’t to her liking and she didn’t hesitate to stop the waiter when he passed by to tell him to bring her something else! We (the four adults at the table) had no problems sharing it.

  • Nicole

    We used to argue at family dinners about which great-aunt made the better mac and cheese (and being sisters, they fueled the fire!) – the “looser” version made with milk, cheese and bit of sugar, or the more solid cheesy, bechamel version. I’ll never tell which aunt’s recipe it was, but my bechamel-based version gets raves and repeat requests every time!!

  • Michael O'Leary

    Mac, Mexican or micro cubed Spanish chorizo and sharp cheddar, spicy, cheesy, delicious

  • Jeff

    My mom made homemade mac and cheese every week when I was growing up, I can’t stand to try it again. Maybe this is inspiration?

  • Al W

    I’m pretty sure it’s going to be
    Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage, and Macaroni
    We have sugar pumpkins and I just emailed my wife the shopping list. She’s always talking about a pumpkin cheese dish she had in Brazil.
    This should make her happy.

  • Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)

    Sounds silly but my favourite mac n cheese has to be the Jamie Oliver recipe (with cauliflower) that the 7-8 year old boys in my cooking club made last year. There’s something magical about seeing little hands working their magic in the kitchen producing something they all declare “amazing” and “Way better than KD (Canadian boxed mac n cheese)” – WIN!

  • bill

    My favorite is the Dave Roberts mac & cheese. It’s all the cheese and all the cream that’s just the right amount of gooey on the inside and the right amount of crunchy on the outside. And you can get it at the best bbq restaurants in the Atlanta area.

    If I have this right,
    1. Dave Roberts created the mac & cheese while at Sam & Dave’s BBQ1.
    2. Dave Poe split off and runs Dave Poe’s BBQ and BBQ1 is now Sam’s BBQ1.
    3. Dave Roberts opened up Community Q.

    All three serve the same mac & cheese and there’s at least one other bbq joint run by a former BBQ1 employee who also borrowed the recipe. I’ve never made it myself because I can’t do brisket or ribs as good as they can and I can’t eat one without the other.

  • Vanessa Lebeau

    Not the best tasting, most probably, but as a kid my mother would take a box mac n cheese and add her own mix plus veggies, meat and tomato juice. It was soooo good!

  • Wendy Koz

    The Big Pig Mac, from Booker’s in Lansing, NY. The name does not do it justice, but it’s filled with creamy cheese, pulled pork and bacon – pure heaven. I’ve never been able to make one from scratch that’s creamy enough for my taste, so I’m glad to have this restaurant version nearby!

    • Wendy Koz

      Sorry – meant to add too that this stuffed pumpkin recipe looks wonderful – can’t wait to try it! I had a friend tell me once that he lived by the “A little squeal with every meal” philosophy, and I have to say that it’s a good general principle!!

  • Dina | The Everyday Contessa

    My favorite is my mother-in-laws…I know, but it is really awesome! She makes hers (that I have learned to master BTW :) with big rigatoni noodles, a whole block of cheese, cream cheese and a crazy amount of butter. She bakes it to golden brown and then everybody goes nuts!

  • Nina Villanova

    The most exotic, amazing, delicious mac & cheese I have ever eaten was a box of Annie’s while I was studying abroad. A friend sent it in a care package. While I prepared it in the common kitchen, all the other Americans were lured out of their rooms by the familiar, homey smell.

  • Bill Halliwell

    Gorgonzola Dolce Erborinato, cream, melted and poured over small cooked gnocci. Topped with chopped bacon and Reggi. Parmesan and briefly baked. Silky, subtle and devine!

  • Patty

    The Fat Cat in Quincy, MA serves the best lobster mac and cheese. It includes blue cheese in the recipe and I love it.

  • John Paulun

    My current favorite is from Slows BBQ in Detroit. Served up with some smoked brisket and a cold beer is my idea of perfect!

  • Lora

    The Mac & cheese at Felice in Cleveland. Grapes, blue cheese, and other yumminess that escapes me at the moment! It may be time to return!

  • Cassie

    I’m pretty into mac and cheese. I like one made with elbows, a bit of white cheddar, gruyere, and whatever odds and ends of cheese I’ve got hiding in the fridge, mixed with oven-blistered cherry tomatoes and spinach, then baked with a garlicky/herby panko breadcrumb topping until bubbly.

    I’m going to have to try to make a lobster mac and cheese at some point! Yum!

  • Jared

    I just like it with fontina, Gruyere, and cheddar. All three of those together is great. Extra sharp cheddar is the only way to go. I don’t think I have ever had it out anywhere, I need to remedy this.

  • Mary Red

    My favorite Mac & Cheese uses a simple mornay. I like experimenting different cheese combinations & add-ins.

  • Greg

    Hopefully the best batch I’ve had will be the umami-crusted mac-n-cheese that is in the oven right now! Fingers crossed!

  • Alicia

    My mom’s baked Mac is still my favorite, with a bechamel full of very sharp cheddar- even when she changed from the elbow noodles of my childhood to farfalle, when she ran out of elbows once. Completely transformed the texture. Now I love farfalle in it. No bread crumbs – just baked till the top layer of cheese and pasta becomes crunchy around the edges.

    She makes this when we visit and it is every bit as delicious as it was when I was a kid. Perfect in its simplicity.

  • Vincent

    I was nineteen, I was incredibly stoned, and I ran home (in the middle of someone’s birthday party) to my kitchen because bacon and macaroni and cheese had come together in my head for the first time. I felt like a genius; it was delicious.

  • allen

    Leftover braised whole venison shoulder from Fergus Hendersons Nose To Tail book, tube pasta, tomatoe sauce, topped with homemade smoked mozzarella toasted under broiler.
    Glad I didn’t make ravioli, much better use of leftovers.

  • Mahdi

    The best mac n’ cheese I’ve ever had was a green chile macaroni prepared by the gourmet chef at the wedding event center I used to work at. It was perfectly balanced and it makes me slobber just thinking about it. I’m a true macaroni lover.

  • Tags

    The very best mac & cheese I’ve ever had was made from cheese obtained from a unicorn who grazed on gossamer and was milked by a virgin. Oh, and the macaroni was by DeCecco.

  • Wengue

    Never understood Mac and cheese, in a sense isn’t all pasta with cheese a version of mac and cheese? Almost as easy to boil up a packet of pasta and throw some ingredients into a pan and grate lots of cheese over I think, as to add water to a blue box…. so my vote for best Mac and cheese would have to be pasta Carbonara made from home made pancetta (recipe from you-know-where), garlic, organic egg (one per person) and a mix of parmiggiano reggiano and smoked scarmozza cheese. Does this qualify?

  • Bob

    It’s nothing unusual – a bacon mac & cheese at a local restaurant, but it’s the execution – perfectly done bacon, tender pasta, and a cheese blend that toasts to a savory, crisp golden brown.

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