Recipe: Havarti Mac and Cheese

A classic recipe with a classy twist; mac and cheese won’t get old if you whip up this tasty version

Help+yourself+to+a+bowl+of+heaven.

SARAH DANIELS

Help yourself to a bowl of heaven.

SARAH DANIELS, Evergreen columnist

SARAH DANIELS

Mac and cheese is one of those foods you can find in just about every restaurant — even if it’s just on the kid’s menu — with all sorts of takes: baked, fried, served on a burger, served with protein, spicy and sweet. The possibilities are endless. I, for one, am a traditionalist that prefers my mac and cheese not baked, with a lot of cheddar and no breadcrumbs.

I do like a huge stack of green onions on it, though.

Anyways, as much as I love my go-to Kraft Spirals mac and cheese, I decided it was time to figure out how they make it as good as they do in the restaurants.

Enter: the roux.

Roux is a mix of melted butter and flour that you add to a sauce to thicken it. Normally, you add an even ratio of flour to melted butter — for example, 1 tbsp flour in 1 tbsp of butter — and chill it before adding to your milk. This will make your mac and cheese sauce thick and creamy instead of milky or stringy from cheese.

I do want to warn you against using shredded cheese for mac and cheese recipes in the sauces. The shredded cheese has a finishing agent to keep it fresher longer, and that makes for a weirdly oily and textured cream sauce It is as gross as it sounds. If you want to opt for easy measuring, sliced cheese is a great option and does not result in weird oils and textures.

Making a roux has changed my mac and cheese game, and I really hope all you mac and cheese fanatics out there try this out and up your game, too.

Havarti and Cheddar Mac and Cheese Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ½ box of pasta, or 8 oz
  • 4 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 3-4 tablespoons flour
    • I personally like less flour which makes it a little thinner.
  • ½ cup milk, heated
  • 2 oz Havarti cheese, cubed
    • I like to add Havarti because the flavor is similar to cheddar enough that it still tastes like cheddar mac and cheese, but it is a little creamier and aides in the creaminess of the sauce.
  • 3 oz Cheddar cheese, cubed
  • Optional: Green onions

Recipe:

  • Boil water and cook pasta until tender
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat
  • Gradually add in flour, stirring consistently
    • Note: The consistency when you use butter vs margarine will be different.
  • Gradually stir in milk until completely combined
    • Note: As mentioned above, you traditionally chill the roux before adding milk. I, however, am lazy and did not notice a difference between the outcomes of a chilled roux and a warm roux.
  • Add cubed or sliced cheese, and stir frequently as it melts
    • Note: If at any point the roux and milk mixture’s texture changes to something not creamy (you’ll know), your sauce has broken. The oil, flour and milk are no longer working together. I have personally found that increasing the heat a little and stirring faster tends to save it.
  • Optional: add a pinch of your favorite seasonings, like garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne
  • Toss with pasta
  • Optional: top with green onions