Grown-Up Mac & Cheese
This mac & cheese is all grown-up with hints of pepper, spicy charcuterie meats & cheeses, and even a vegetable!
“Take people’s opinion of you with a grain of salt...and some pepper, noodles, cheese...maybe a little bacon...because mac and cheese matters more than what anyone thinks of you.”
Life is kinda crazy and way to short to worry about what other people think of you. Way better to think about mac & cheese. After all, it is national mac and cheese day.
Before my husband and I started dating, one of the things he noticed about me was the food I brought to parties. Now, he claims it was how cute I looked, but the man is a foodie and has a taste for the spicy. I'm still not certain it wasn't the charcuterie board I brought with me that day. we may never know, but every time I make the peppery mac and cheese, I think that board piled high with spicy meats and cheeses that inspired the mac. Ironically, this mac & cheese has become a regularly requested dish and it's perfect for national mac & cheese day!
This mac & cheese is all grown-up with hints of pepper, spicy charcuterie meats & cheeses, and even a vegetable! Simple to make, it has an extra pop of flavor and is easy to customize for your family using your favorite cheeses and meats.
Grown-Up Mac & Cheese
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- 2 pots
- 1 colander
- Cheese grater
- Baker dish (equivalent of 9X13) (plus pan for chicken and bacon, if including)
- 16 ounce box of pasta (shells, penne, etc. - I use whatever I have on hand)
- 1-2 TablespoonS olive oil
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 6 cups mixed cheeses (I like cheddar, gruyere, pepper jack and habanero cheeses)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Slap Ya Mamma seasoning (optional)
- 4-6 slices bacon (optional)
- 4-6 slices prociutto (optional)
- 4-6 slices sopresata (optional)
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (optional)
- 1/2 can of artichoke hearts (optional)
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- in a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and salt to taste and cook according to directions on package (cook slightly less than time for al dente, as this pasta will bake ~15 minutes in the oven.
- Shred and mix your cheeses. If adding bacon or chicken, cook these now.
- In a second large pot, add your butter and flour and combine. Cook for about 1 minute then gradually add in your whipping cream and 1/3 of your cheese.
- Strain pasta and toss with olive oil.
- Add pasta into cheese and cream mixture, fully coating in cheese.
- Add in your meats and artichoke hearts into the pasta mixture.
- Drizzle a little olive oil in your baker dish.
- Pour 1/2 of your cheesy pasta into your dish.
- Cover the pasta with another 1/2 of your shredded cheese.
- Pour the remaining pasta into your dish and top with remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake for ~15 minutes until cheese topping bakes and crisps.
Stay safe and happy cooking!