Sometimes I crave mac’n’cheese

…I mean, all the time I crave mac’n’cheese, but especially after seeing some on a menu in Wisconsin, made with Wisconsin cheese and … beer!  This sounded like an adventure not to miss, but unfortunately the restaurant was sold out so I ventured to make my own version…

I started with a simple roux from 3T butter and flour.  After using some milk to start the white sauce, I added most of a bottle of Anchor Porter to thin it out.  Then > 1 lb. cheese (Swiss and cheddar, with a slight leaning toward the Swiss) was grated into the sauce and stirred until mostly melted.  The sauce was bitter and rich.  We seasoned it with white pepper and a little nutmeg—ib suggested cumin which might be fun to try next time…

We cooked a pound of cappellini pasta and mixed it into the sauce with the remaining beer from the bottle.   This filled a 9×13 pan.  We topped it with fresh grated breadcrumbs (from stale French bread) and parmesan cheese and baked at 350 for just over a half hour.

On the side, we sauteed up some broccoli rabe in oil with red pepper flakes and garlic.

Both the mac’n’cheese and the greens were slightly bitter, but it mostly worked well.  The mac’n’cheese got a bit dry, so maybe next time it would help to cover it for the first part of the baking, or maybe to not bake for quite so long.  Something could have used a sweet contrast, like caramelized onions, to balance out the flavors, but I really enjoyed the simple texture of the mac’n’cheese with the rich flavors brought out by the porter, but maybe experimenting with the exact beer used will help to balance out the flavors.


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