Food

Make this quick, classic mac & cheese recipe for a comforting meal with leftovers to spare

It comes to us from a Calgary cheesemonger, so you know it’s going to be divine.

It comes to us from a Calgary cheesemonger, so you know it’s going to be divine

Mac and cheese is one of those dishes that’s laced with so much childhood nostalgia that attempts to put a new spin on the classic are often met with serious outrage. And while we’ve been known to experiment with the meal ourselves — even adding a few veggies into the mix at times — there’s no denying the power of a simple recipe done right. That’s exactly why were were drawn to this one from Calgary cheesemonger Janice Beaton, which appears in the Taste Canada award-winning cookbook Feast. It mixes Quebec Cheddar with Gruyère for a distinct cheesy flavour, but leaves out unnecessary additions that would distract from the tastes we love. Serve it with a crunchy kale salad for a quick, comforting dinner.

Beaton’s Mac & Cheese

Years ago, during the first of two stints in Calgary, Lindsay worked as a cheesemonger at Janice Beaton Fine Cheese. Though she could stay for only six months, the friendships she made there have lasted, including with her boss, Janice, a creative and highly successful Calgary entrepreneur. We saw Janice and her fiancé, Bob, when we passed through on our trip. She asked when we’d be in Cape Breton, the place she grew up, and we told her it would be around Thanksgiving. “Great!” she replied. “You can come to our wedding!” So we did. And it was perfect.

This recipe is from Janice, and uses several of the mainstay cheeses from her shop. It’s the ideal mix of creamy cheesiness and crunch with just a bit of heat.

We love using Quebec cheddars for this dish — the older the better.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dried macaroni, or 4 ½ cups penne
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ cup grainy mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère
  • 2 ½ cups grated aged white cheddar
  • ½ cup dried bread crumbs

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Set a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Grease a 9-×13-inch baking dish or casserole dish or a large ovenproof skillet.

Once the pasta water is boiling, cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain when ready.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, sauté the butter with the onion and garlic. Whisk in the flour and cook the roux for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally, over medium-low heat. In a small pot, heat the milk until just below boiling. Add the hot milk, along with the cayenne, mustard, salt, and pepper to the roux. Cook until the sauce is creamy and smooth, about 10 minutes.

Add the cheeses and stir until melted. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Combine the sauce and pasta (don’t worry if it seems like a lot of sauce — the pasta will absorb it in the oven) and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes longer. Serve immediately.


Excerpted from Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Roadtrip by Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller. Copyright © 2017 Lindsay Anderson and Dana VanVeller. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Servings: Makes 6-8 servings

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