I am a hoarder, a cheese hoarder to be exact. Today was trash pick-up day and I decided to clean the fridge. This is what I found in the deli drawer.
This represents seventeen packages of perfectly good cheese, each well within it’s expiration date. I love cheese, often spending a good bit of my shopping trip perusing the cheese display. Please bear in mind that this collection excludes grated and shredded cheeses in plastic tubs, as well as cream cheese, cottage cheese, and ricotta. This is simply sliced and chunk cheeses. It could have been a whole lot more shocking. Knowing I would never fit them back in the deli drawer, I decided to concoct a macaroni and cheese dish using the best cheese remnants. Excluded for obvious reason were smoked gouda, horseradish cheddar, pepper Jack, cotija, and Wensleydale with honey and figs. Also excluded were unopened packages of deli sliced provolone and swiss.
The cheeses making the cut included white and yellow cheddar, swiss, Muenster, gouda, gruyere, Monterey Jack, American, and provolone. The rest were crammed back into the deli drawer to await their fate.
I began by sorting the cheeses into white and yellow then grating each in the food processor. I ended up with two beautiful piles of perfectly grated cheese, about four cups total.
I like a bread crumb topping on my mac and cheese and a search through the bread cabinet yielded three still-fresh, unused hot dog buns. These should work just fine, and considering the trash can theme of the recipe, they fit perfectly since we have no hot dogs to go with them. Had they not made it into the recipe, they would have become a tasty treat for the chickens. Not today my feathered friends.
So here’s the recipe and directions for my version of mac ‘n cheese using items destined for the trash or chicken yard.
4 TBS butter
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
½ tsp white pepper
4 cups grated cheese
½ cup cream cheese (optional)
13 oz package elbow macaroni
3 hot dog buns (or hamburger buns, or white bread)
3 TBS butter
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste
Fresh parsley to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime, in a large pot melt butter over medium heat. Add milk, cream, white pepper, and grated cheese. Cook, stirring continuously until cheese melts. Do not allow cheese sauce to come to a boil. Taste. If texture is too course or flavor too sharp, add about 1/2 cup cream cheese to smooth out the sauce.
Cook pasta to very al dente stage and drain in colander. In a large bowl, stir together the cheese sauce and pasta. It will be kind of soupy and that’s ok. The baking process will thicken it up as the pasta continues to cook.
In the food processor or blender, place the cubed hot dog buns, butter, pepper, red pepper, and parsley. Pulse or blend until coarse. Don’t over process breadcrumb topping.
Pour the pasta and sauce into a baking dish. I used a 2 quart glass dish and two large, individual ramekins. A 9×13 glass pan would probably be just right. Sprinkle breadcrumb topping evenly over the top.
Place baking pan(s) on cookie sheet. Sorry for the ugly cookie sheet. It is just used for catching drips in the oven. No self respecting cookie would be caught dead on this. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until hot, bubbly, and nicely browned on top.
The final taste and texture will vary depending on what types of cheese you have been hoarding. Mine was slightly sharp with a little grainier texture than the typical velvety mac and cheese.
Here it is in all it’s hot, steamy, cheesy glory.