Ilchester Day 5: Mexicana and Monterey Jack Mac and Cheese

Ilchester’s Day 5 cheese is a Cheddar blended with jalapenos, bell peppers, and chiles. I paired this Mexicana Cheese and Monterey Jack together for a spicy southwest-inspired 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.

Monterey Jack is a creamy American-originated cheese with an opening flavor. It is easy to get your hands on and works fantastically with a variety of cheeses. Jack is a great option if you’re looking to branch out to other opener cheeses.

Mexicana cheese is another one I don’t have previous experience with. It does have a kick. Enough of a kick that our resident first grader didn’t want to eat it alone, but that mellows out when combined in a sauce. However, it is still full of flavor. This is one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes so far.

Rotini is a fantastic pasta vehicle in mac and cheese. It’s small and easy to fork and has plenty of ridges to soak up sauce so every bite is full of cheesy goodness.

u003cstrongu003eIlchester Day 5: Mexicana and Monterey Jack Cheeseu003c/strongu003e

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 300 kcal


  • 16 oz pasta cooked according to package directions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 oz Mexicana Cheddar, grated
  • 4 oz Monterey Jack, 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.