Smoky Cheddar and Fontina Mac and Cheese Recipe
On day 16, our recipe is a smoky cheddar and fontina mac and cheese. Layered in a habanero honey mustard with mini croutons, this mac and cheese packs in spicy, sweet, and smoky flavors sure to please.
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Using cheese in mac and cheese
When you take a bite of cheese, I want you to pay attention to when the flavor starts tho show up. Sometimes it takes a few seconds, but carries throughout the end of the bite. These are what I call closer cheeses. Other cheeses hit you immediately but fade away. I call them opener cheeses.
Well-rounded mac and cheese recipes include both opener and closer flavors so that you get cheesy flavors through the entire bite.
Cheddar is your quintessential opener. It’s easy to get your hands on, it’s packed with cheesy flavor, and works beautifully with many closers. However, when smoked, this cheese gets a new dimension of flavor. When you bite into this cheese, you are immediately hit with cheesy flavors, but smokiness comes through at the end. This cheese could easily serve as its own opener and closer, so you can pair it with any cheese you’d like.
Fontina is a creamy Italian cheese that works beautifully as an opener. It’s a white, creamy Italian cheese that gives other flavors a chance to stand out. While this cheese is more mellow, it makes its presence known. It pairs beautifully with a smoky cheddar, elevating cheddar’s opening flavors while giving a backdrop for the smokiness to shine through at the end.
Trottole Pasta in smoky cheddar and fontina mac and cheese
Choosing the wrong pasta can destroy your mac and cheese experience. When creating his own pasta line, Dan Pashman coined the phrase “forkability” and that perfectly describes the ideal pasta size. The perfect noodle size sits perfectly between pasta that is too large and cumbersome to eat, and pasta that is too small to get on a fork. You want your dish to be comfortable to eat.
Trottole sits in the perfect Goldilocks spot between too small and too large, and it offers plenty of ridges to hold onto sauce making every bite full of cheesy flavor.
Mac and cheese toppings can take a good mac and cheese to a great mac and cheese. They add extra dimensions of flavor, texture, and color that you won’t otherwise get from just cheese sauce and pasta.
In today’s recipe, I used mini croutons and Melinda’s habanero honey mustard. The croutons add a crunchy texture that balances beautifully with the mac and cheese. The habanero sauce adds an orange color and spicy sweetness that balances beautifully with the smoky cheese.
Reheating smoky cheddar and fontina mac and cheese
Mac and cheese is known for being difficult to reheat. It generally yields a greasy mess of pasta that is nowhere near as good as the day it was made. However, I’ve seen that roux based mac and cheese reheats beautifully. A minute or two in the microwave and you’ll have perfectly creamy mac and cheese. In fact, giving the ingredients a few days to mingle together in the fridge gives you even more delicious mac and cheese.
add a fork
Smoky cheddar and fontina mac and cheese is layered with crispy mini croutons and habanero honey mustard for a spicy sweet smoky mac and cheese that would be perfect as an entree or even as a side for a more substantial entree.
Smoky Cheddar and Fontina Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 1 pound Trottole Or other medium sized pasta
For the Sauce
- 3 tbsp Butter
- 3 tbsp Flour
- 3 cups Whole milk
- 4 oz Fontina Grated
- 4 oz Smoky cheddar Grated
- 1/2 tbsp Better than bullion Chicken flavor
- 1 tsp Ground mustard
- Mini croutons
- Habanero honey mustard
- Cook the pasta according to package directions in well salted water. If you think it’s salty enough, add more.
Prepare the Sauce
- 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. Stir in mustard powder and Better than Bullion
- 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.
Plate your Pasta
- Layer pasta with mini croutons and a drizzle of habanero honey mustard. Serve immediately.