Food Snob

Living three hours from Seattle has its benefits. Like being three-hours away from Pike Place Market and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese where you can watch employees as they make fresh cheese curds.

This recipe is adapted from one sent to me by my grandma, who probably didn’t even know that I’ve actually been to Beecher’s.

To my amazement, the QFC down the street from my house recently began carrying Beecher’s Flagship cheese. I took this as a sign that I was meant to make this dish for Christmas Eve dinner, as I know mac and cheese is one of my dad’s favorite meals. Unfortunately the QFC does not carry any other variety of Beecher’s cheeses – so I substituted Tillamook Monterrey Jack cheese instead. Also a local cheese!

The cheese sauce in this recipe has a very mild flavor, save for the pepper kick – which Dad and I both believe makes the dish.

Oftentimes Dad will ‘complain’ about the amount of food I make when cooking. This time there were no complaints. The recipe only serves four and we did a pretty good job of eating most of it in one sitting. For the first time I think we both wished a recipe had yielded more food!

sauce ingredients.

  • 2 T. butter
  • 3 1/2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. half-and-half
  • 7 oz Beecher’s Flagship cheese, grated (about 1 3/4 c.)
  • 1 oz Beecher’s Just Jack cheese, grated (1/4 c.)
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

pasta ingredients.

  • 6 oz penne pasta (about 3 1/4 c.)
  • 1 oz (1/4 c.) Beecher’s Flagship cheese, grated
  • 1 oz (1/4 c.) Beecher’s Just Jack cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder

directions.

  1. To prepare sauce, melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add flour. Cook, whisking constantly, two minutes.
  2. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
  3. Add cheese, salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Stir until cheese melts, about 3 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. To prepare pasta, cook pasta two minutes less than package directions – it will finish cooking in the oven. Rinse pasta in cold water and drain well.
  6. Combine pasta and sauce in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly. The mixture may seem soupy depending on how long you let the mixture thicken on the stove. (Mine turned out pretty thick and I ended up thinning it down a bit by adding more half and half.) If your sauce turns out sorta soupy, don’t worry – some of the liquid will be absorbed while baking.
  7. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheese and chili powder.
  8. Bake uncovered 30 minutes. Let stand five minutes before serving. Serves four.

Recipe rating: 

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