DNothing brings families together like a comforting pot of this homemade, Family Style White Cheddar Mac and Cheese!
Did you know that June is National Dairy Month?
I’ve been working with Arizona Milk Producers (for nearly three years now) to inspire you with loads of delicious dairy-infused recipes.
But what I really love about Arizona Milk Producers is their ongoing commitment to make milk a nutritious part of everyone’s diet. This year they’ve teamed up with Shamrock Farms and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and together they plan to get 1,600 gallons of milk to families in need.
YOU CAN HELP!
If you’re an Arizona resident make sure to visit dairycouncilofaz.org from June 1 – 30, 2105 to participate in “Daily Dose of Dairy” for the chance to win a daily prize, which includes a $25 grocery gift card and a Shamrock Farms free dairy certificate. Each time someone enters, the recommended daily intake of dairy (three servings) will be donated to the United Food Bank. All entrants are eligible to win the grand prize – a $250 grocery gift card and an Arizona Milk Producers prize!
This month I’m super excited to share another fantastic meal idea that uses not one, but three types of dairy!
You guys! Dairy never tasted so good!!
So… I’m sort of a cheese enthusiast. I love, love, love it! There are so many varieties of cheese out there, it’s hard to pick sometimes.
There is a grocery store near me that has the most amazing selection of cheeses. Not just the prepackaged cheese, but the cheese that comes in a huge block and a cheese monger (YES, A CHEESE MONGER) cuts off little blocks and wraps them up for you!
When I went to pick out the cheese to make this white cheddar mac and cheese, I was looking for… well… white cheddar.
I came out of there with three different types! A sweet cheddar, a buttery Wisconsin blend, and a sharp white cheddar. My local cheese monger helped me pick out some great flavors and these three blended so well together. I’ll give you the gist of the recipe below, but take your time when picking out the cheese you use. If you can, sample it, enjoy it. It’s so fun finding new flavors to experiment with!
I wanted my smooth and creamy mac and cheese to have a nice pop of smokey and salty flavor, so I diced up some pancetta (bacon will also work) and crisped it up in my dutch oven.
Once that was done, I wiped out my pot and started working on my velvety smooth cheese sauce.
Oh, and feel free to use any sort of pasta you prefer. The larger rigatoni noodles are my favorite because the cheese sauce gets in their little nooks and crannies and it’s just so so good.
Making your own homemade sauce is super simple.
The key is to constantly whisk the sauce. Nothing too crazy, just keep a steady arm going. To do this, I like to get all my ingredients right by the pot so I can add them easily without having to pause.
I used a 2% milk for my cheese sauce. A whole milk will produce an even thicker sauce, where as a skim milk will produce a thinner sauce.
The results are a silky and creamy cheese sauce that will make you swoon.
If you’re looking for a sure fire way to boost the flavor of your mac and cheese… add some fresh basil!
If you’re not a basil fan you can try fresh parsley. But basil is my absolute fave!
Your whole family will fall head over heels for a bowl of this dairy-packed deliciousness.
Mine does… Every. Single. Time.
Oh and don’t forget to add that pancetta (or bacon) at the end!!
Family Style White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 16 oz macaroni pasta, or preferred pasta, dry
- 1/3 pound pancetta, diced (or thick cut bacon), diced
- 5 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 4 to 5 cups white cheddar cheese, or a blend of white cheddar cheeses, shredded
- 2 to 3 tbsp basil leaves, fresh
- cracked black pepper, fresh
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and toss with olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Heat a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat and crisp up the diced pancetta (or bacon), until cooked through and crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Carefully remove grease from pot and wipe clean with paper towels.
- Return the pot to the stove over medium heat. Melt the butter then toss in the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, but do not let it burn.
- Slowly add the flour, one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until it forms a thick paste. Keep stirring and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Slowly add the milk, while continuing to whisk constantly so no lumps form. Add the cheese and salt and whisk until smooth and creamy. Add in the cooked noodles and toss to combine.
- Serve hot with the pancetta, basil and freshly cracked black pepper on top. Enjoy!
disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the Arizona Milk Producers, reminding you to get your 3 daily doses of dairy! All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.