Spadea’s best mac & cheese recipe from leftover cheese
It's one of my favorite meals. Cheesy and delicious, and surprisingly simple to make.
The inspiration for my latest mac & cheese creation started with leftover cheese from several cheese boards through the holidays. I just started grating cheese and ended up with nearly four cups. So of course, mac & cheese.
I started with about a third of a stick of butter in a large Le Creuset pot on the stovetop. The choice of the pan is important because you want to make sure nothing sticks, but we don't cook on non-stick surfaces other than our highly seasoned cast iron pans and porcelain enamel surfaces, any longer.
Low heat is critical so the sauce you're making doesn't "break".
The key to a great mac & cheese is to start with a "Roux".
The trick is low heat and constant stirring. As I said, I started with a lot of butter on low heat and then added four cups of raw milk. After the milk was heated, I started stirring in about a half cup of flour. I use einkorn ancient grain flour because it's better for you, according to a rising number of professionals (read "Wheat Belly").
As the milk, butter, and flour thickened and heated, I used a small whisk and yes, constant stirring, start to add in the cheese, do it slowly and turn off the heat for a bit to let the cheese melt in with the liquid. Again, constant stirring.
Add about a half cup of white wine and make sure it's heated through.
Once it's all melted and hot, turn the heat off and boil the pasta water. I used penne, specifically the protein pasta from Barilla.
Cook the pasta al dente and then drain and add to the liquid. Mix and keep on low heat.
You'll notice it starts to get cheesy and melty. Turn off the burner and turn on the broiler in your oven.
Add bread crumbs and some additional shredded cheese on top.
As you'll see from the picture, I fried up some pepperoni chunks on the side and added them to the mix before adding the breadcrumb topping.
Place the whole thing under the broiler for about 5 minutes to melt the top cheese and brown the bread crumbs. Enjoy!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.