Three Ways to Mac and Cheese Bliss
It’s hard to argue a more classic American side dish than mac and cheese (though we’ll admit potatoes come close). Be it part of a Thanksgiving spread of countless culinary delights, or eaten by itself as a warm bowl of comfort on an ordinary Tuesday evening, the meal acts as a blank canvas for two of life’s greatest joys: pasta and cheese.
We’ve rounded up three simple new ways for you to upgrade your next meal, from a “fondue” mac and cheese that incorporates white wine and Gruyère, to a truffle butter and raclette offering, and even a ranch—yes, ranch—mac and cheese. Click through to start your journey into cheesy goodness, or jump straight to a recipe below.
Jump straight to a recipe
After a taxing day on the ski slopes, many Europeans relax with warm drinks and fondue at the lodge. But you don’t have to travel far to bring that Alpine vibe to your own kitchen. This macaroni and cheese recipe is all about the molten Gruyère by the scoop, balanced by slices of fresh green apple.
- 1½ pounds Gruyère, grated
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ¼ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 apple, cored and sliced
- Panko bread crumbs (optional)
Heat oven to 400°F. Fold garlic into butter in bowl. Grease casserole pan or baking dish with butter-garlic mixture.
Toss cornstarch with 1 pound Gruyère. Set aside. Bring pot of water to boil, and add salt. Boil macaroni for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Dunk pasta in cold water to shock, and let drain.
In same pot, warm wine over medium-low heat. One handful at a time, whisk in cheese until melted. Add pepper and nutmeg. Stir in cooked pasta. Transfer pasta mixture into buttered dish, and top with remaining cheese. If using bread crumbs, add atop and dot with extra garlic butter.
Cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese bubbles. Remove foil, and bake 5 minutes until crisp. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve alongside sliced apples. Serves 4.
Domaine de Montmollin 2016 Chasselas (Neuchâtel); $32, 90 points. This straw colored wine has aromas of lemon rind, lime and citrus blossom. The palate is round in feel, with flavors of lemon zest and green apple that lead to a pleasantly crisp finish. —Jeff Jensen
Erste Neue 2017 Pinot Grigio (Alto Adige); $18, 90 points. This wine’s floral and fruity honeysuckle, citrus and green apple aromas practically jump out of the glass. The juicy, medium-bodied palate doles out ripe Granny Smith apple, Bartlett pear and tangerine flavors, alongside a hint of crushed stone. Tangy acidity lifts the rich flavors. —Kerin O’Keefe
Courtesy Abby Reisner, author, Ranch: An Ode to America’s Beloved Sauce in 60 Mouth-Watering Recipes (Dovetail Press, 2018)
In this recipe, you’re making a roux that’s thickened more with ranch seasoning than it is with flour, then turning it into béchamel—two fancy-sounding French culinary terms that almost make you forget about the fact that there’s over a pound of cheese in this comforting childhood favorite. Feel free to substitute some of the cheddar or Gruyére with your favorite melty cheese, like fontina or Asiago.
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs, plus more for finishing
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
- Kosher salt
- 8 ounces dried medium shell pasta or medium elbow macaroni
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons Homemade Ranch Seasoning (below), or store-bought ranch seasoning
- ½ pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ pound Gruyère cheese, grated
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl and add the Parmesan, tossing to combine. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it is about 3 minutes shy of al dente. Drain it and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk and buttermilk, and bring to a bare simmer. Keep warm on low heat. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and ranch seasoning, whisking constantly, until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the buttermilk mixture a little at a time, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add almost all the grated cheddar and Gruyère (reserving a few handfuls for sprinkling over the top), mustard powder, and a few dashes of Tabasco. Stir to combine the sauce, then add in the pasta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the cheesy pasta into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and reserved breadcrumbs. Bake the pasta until the cheese is bubbling and the top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Garnish with the chopped parsley before serving. Serves 6–8.
- 6 tablespoons buttermilk powder
- 1½ tablespoons dried chives
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 teaspoons sumac (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk powder, chives, parsley, dill, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, mustard powder, and sumac (if using). Fold the mixture together until well combined. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. The seasoning will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Makes about 1 cup.
Courtesy of Danny Grant, chef, Maple & Ash, Chicago
There’s no better example of a high-low pairing than macaroni and cheese with a bottle of vintage Champagne. Amy Mundwiler, wine director at Maple & Ash, likes to pair Taittinger 2006 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs with Chef Grant’s entrée. “You really need the maturity to stand up to the truffle butter,” says Mundwiler. “The acidity of the Champagne cuts through the fattiness of the cheese and allows the nuttiness of the Parmesan and aromatics of the truffle to shine through.”
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot, thin sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 ounces corn kernels
- ¾ cup chicken stock
- 12 ounces dry garganelli
- 6 tablespoons truffle butter
- ¼ cup truffle oil
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
- 8 ounces raclette cheese, grated
- 3 ounces panko breadcrumbs
- 3 chives, chopped (for garnish)
Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium heat, and cook shallot and garlic until translucent. Add corn, and cook for 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of chicken stock, and simmer for 7 minutes. Let cool, then process in blender until smooth.
Heat oven to 350˚F.
Bring pot of well-salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, and strain.
In large sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm corn purée with truffle butter, truffle oil and remaining ½ cup chicken stock. Add Parmesan and 6 ounces raclette, and cook until melted. Add warm pasta, and coat well. Transfer to 8-inch square casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs and remaining 2 ounces raclette. Bake for 10 minutes. Garnish with chives. Serves 4.
- 1Fondue Mac and Cheese
- 2Ranch Mac and Cheese
- 3Garganelli with Raclette and Parmesan