We’ve temporarily banned mac ‘n cheese at my house. It all started with gruyere and a sale. I’d never really experimented with gruyere cheese until a few months ago, when I saw one lonely end piece that was discounted in the cheese section at the grocery store. Well, if it’s on sale, that’s enough of an excuse for me to experiment with a new ingredient – especially when it comes to cheese!
Gruyere has a sharp, tangy flavor that tastes a bit like Swiss combined with Parmesan (and it melts beautifully). Its strong flavor brightens creamy dishes – like alfredo sauces and quiche. And it’s usually reserved for more, well, high-end dishes, not the humble mac ‘n cheese. That’s too bad. Gruyere is perfect paired with American cheese and sharp cheddar for a robust sauce just waiting to ooze through macaroni noodles.
So if you’re looking to liven up – and improve – your mac ‘n cheese, forget about the boxed variety that comes with techno-colored powdered cheese and character-shaped noodles. Start with a strong cheese. Along with gruyere, we’ve also started trying other unexpected cheeses. Gorgonzola, fontina and Romano have been sneaking their way into our version.
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And what about that ban, you ask?
Well, we’ve gotten just a little too good at mac ‘n cheese! You’ll notice this mac ‘n cheese recipe doesn’t skimp on the cheese (or the calories). This is definitely a special dish to have every once in a while – not every week.
Oh, and one quick note: Most mac ‘n cheese recipes call for making a flour-butter-milk sauce, or a roux, and then adding the cheese. I skip that for my recipe, because I find the sauce has a stronger cheese flavor without it. And frankly, it’s less work!
Now I’m off to explore what’s on sale in the cheese section …