Mac & Cheese Making a Comeback?

by Ari Weinzweig

On November 25, 2008, the New York Times published an article about the quintessential American dish, Macaroni and Cheese. Featured in the article is the Macaroni and Three Peppercorn recipe made by Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Check out the article, then enjoy the recipe included below:

Zingerman’s Roadhouse Macaroni and 3 Peppercorn Goat Cheese
Serves 4

This is an easy-to-prepare and very tasty macaroni and cheese dish. The creaminess of the goat cheese is set off beautifully by the spiciness of the peppercorns. I like the diversity of peppercorns in color and in flavor. The better the quality of the peppercorn, the better the dish. I rely on the complex, full flavors of the pepper we purchase (and sell!) from the folks at Épices de Cru in Montreal.

The quality of the macaroni you use is critical to the quality of the dish. Industrially-made pasta never has the full flavor or sturdy texture that you get in a well-made artisanal offering. You really can taste the difference and as a result I really recommend using the macaroni from the Martelli family in Tuscany, but Rustichella, Faella, and Baia are all top-quality brands we use regularly at the Roadhouse.

We serve this dish with a slice of the Creamery’s Aged Chelsea goat cheese, breaded and pan fried, atop a bowl of this peppery, creamy macaroni—giving the dish an enjoyable contrast of textures and flavors.

For the macaroni:
Coarse sea salt for the pasta cooking water
1 pound macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup diced onion
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups Zingerman’s Creamery Fresh Goat Cheese
3/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 teaspoons freshly and coarsely ground black peppercorns, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly and coarsely ground white peppercorns
1 teaspoon freshly and coarsely ground green peppercorns
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

For the Aged Chelsea:
4 ounces Zingerman’s Creamery Aged Chelsea, cut into 4 rounds about 1/2 inch thick
1 large egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter for frying. You’ll be able to fry the Chelsea rounds just before serving, so have your ingredients ready.

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta and stir well. Cook for about 13 minutes (if using Martelli) or until the pasta is done. Drain it and set it aside.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter for the sauce in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat (be careful not to scorch the butter). Add the onion and bay leaf and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaf. Add the flour, and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.
  • Slowly add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. When the flour and milk have been completely combined, stir in the cream. Keep the mixture at a gentle simmer (not at a high boil) until it thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the mustard, goat cheese, red peppers, peppercorns, and salt. Stir the drained pasta into the cheese sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Cook for 1-2minutes, stirring regularly, so the coked pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Cover and remove from the heat.
  • Beat the egg and milk in a shallow bowl until just combined. Spread the breadcrumbs on a plate. One at a time, dip each cheese round in the egg wash to cover, then completely coat in the bread crumbs. 
  • To fry the aged Chelsea goat cheese slices, melt the butter over moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Fry the cheese rounds, about one minute each side, until golden.
  • Serve each bowl of macaroni topped with a golden Aged Chelsea. Dig in!