Wisconsin may not be what most people think of as a culinary hotspot but some of its local foods, like bratwurst, custard and kringle, seem to have a cult following. It’s not necessarily the healthiest of cuisine but it’s certainly delicious and who doesn’t want to indulge every once in awhile?
The real stars of local flavor, however, are more well-known: beer and cheese. Thank God for beer and cheese. This week we’re celebrating our love for Wisconsin and it’s wonderful cheeses, as voted on by our readers.
I made this Rosemary White Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese for my white and gold holiday party and had multiple people request the recipe so now it’s time to share. It’s a classier (but just as easy!) version of an old-time crowd favorite.
Rosemary White Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese
*adapted from Ina Garten
1 lb of penne or cavatappi noodles
3 C milk (I use skim to lower the calories)
1/2 C half and half
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 C flour
1 large block of white cheddar cheese (approx 4 C)
2C swiss or gruyere cheese
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 pinch nutmeg
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 1/2 C panko bread crumbs
salt, pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles until they are al dente. Shred the block of white cheddar cheese. In a medium pot, combine milk and half and half and gently warm but do not let boil. In a separate large pot, melt butter over med-low heat. Whisk in flour until smooth and thick. Slowly add warm milk into flour mixture, whisking to smooth out any chunks. Add mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Slowly add cheddar, whisking in until the cheese begins to melt. Add swiss/gruyere mix and continue whisking until semi-smooth (you will have some globs of cheese).
Pour noodles into a 13×9 baking pan. Pour cheese mixture over noodles, sprinkle with more salt and pepper and mix well. Using a kitchen shears, snip rosemary sprigs into small pieces over the macaroni. Use your fingers to strip any remaining leaves off the rosemary. Stir again and sprinkle panko crumbs over the entire dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
NOTE: Don’t like the cheeses I used? Can’t find them? Don’t sweat it…standard sharp cheddar will work just fine! Block cheese that you shred on the spot will give better consistency for the cheddar. If you wish to speed things up, pre-shredded will be fine for the swiss.
PS: In Milwaukee and looking for something to do tonight? I’m “competing” as a baker in the Iron Cupcake Milwaukee: Beer challenge tonight at MOCT! Anyone can come and if you do, make sure to swing by and say hello…and vote for my cupcakes made with home brewed beer!