As a food blogger, it’s no secret that I am obsessed with food-focused holidays. Actually, every holiday in my house is food-centric. But Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is THE holiday for cooking. And my extended family brings their A-game every single year.
My parents effortlessly host around 40 family members. They roast two turkeys, make endless bowls of stuffing, bake numerous pumpkin pies. But the rest of the meal is left to the guests. Everyone brings something, and each dish is nothing short of spectacular. I want to be clear: it’s not a competition. We all genuinely love food. And we love our enormous family. And we show our love through the meal we make together.
Which brings me to the side dish I’ve been tasked with this year: macaroni and cheese. I use a recipe adapted slightly from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, and it is my favorite in the world. It’s creamy, nutty, a little spicy, and super comforting. It’s a great side dish because it makes enough for everyone, but you really only need a little on your plate since it’s so rich. Which, I’m sure everyone will be happy to hear, means there’s plenty of room for all of the other fabulous fixings.
From my family to yours, happy Thanksgiving!
Mac & Cheese
Adapted slightly from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Serves: 8 as a side dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25-35 minutes
12 ounces penne rigate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
8 ounces aged white cheddar plus 2 tablespoons, grated
2 ounces Monterey jack plus two tablespoons, grated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 350°.
Cook pasta for 2 minutes less than directed on the packaging. Drain promptly and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt butter. Add flour, whisking constantly for 3-4 minutes, until the roux is beginning to turn golden. Add the milk gradually, whisking until incorporated. Allow the milk to thicken (usually anywhere from 6-10 minutes). Watch carefully here! If you cook over too high of heat, the milk will bubble over. Remove from heat and add the grated cheeses, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder.
Pour the mixture into an oven-safe baking dish. Add 4 more tablespoons of cheese to the top, then dust with a sprinkle chili powder. Bake 25-35 minutes, until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbling.
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