Ilchester Advent Calendar Day 1: Mature Cheddar and Asiago Mac and Cheese
I could wax poetic about Cheddar cheese all day long. It’s one of my favorite cheeses. It’s the cheese that pops into your head when someone tells you to picture cheese. It invokes cozy feelings and is a beautiful addition to a variety of recipes. The first cheese in Ilchester’s Cheese Advent Calendar is cheddar and it pairs beautifully with Asiago in this mac and cheese.
The cheese advent calendar from Ilchester is the passion project of Annem Hobson from So Wrong It’s Nom. Each day contains .7 oz of cheese from 9 different varieties and I’m turning each into a single serving of mac and cheese. You can follow along here.
On the first day of December, Ilchester gave us a mature cheddar. “Mature” is another way to define “aged” – which is the aging process that makes cheddar flavors sharper and more complex. Because the flavors of a cheddar sit at the beginning of the bite, it is an opener cheese.
I used Asiago as the closer in this recipe. Asiago is a strong closer cheese that has enough flavor to match sharp opener cheeses.
For the pasta vehicle, I chose rotini. For mac and cheese, I like to aim for a pasta shape that is large enough to avoid showing imperfections in the sauce while small enough that you can easily eat it using a fork. Rotini is a readily available pasta that is easy to eat and has plenty of ridges to hold the sauce making sure each bite is flavorful and no sauce is wasted.
Cheddar and asiago pair beautifully in a mac and cheese perfect for any occasion. I didn’t use any toppings while making test recipes because I wanted to allow the cheeses to stand out, but herbs would be a fantastic addition and a bright pop of color.
Mature Cheddar and Asiago Mac and Cheese
- 16 oz pasta cooked according to package directions
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 oz Cheddar, grated
- 4 oz Asiago, grated
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Pre heat your milk in the microwave for 45 seconds – just enough to take the chill out of it.
- Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and let it heat until it becomes foamy.
- Mix in flour. Cook it for a minute while stirring constantly
- Slowly add warmed milk to the butter mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk it continually until combined. Season generously with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Once all of the milk is added, cook for a few minutes while whisking it. Do not let it boil. You will feel the sauce start to thicken. It’s ready for cheese when you rub a small amount between your fingers and it feels silky.
- Remove from heat and stir in your cheese until it’s melted and mixed into the sauce.
- Once the cheese is incorporated, use a cooked noodle to taste your sauce. If it doesn’t taste cheesy enough try adding a little more salt to bring out the flavor.
- Combine the pasta and sauce and serve.