Recently, through another Boston Parent Blogger (Leah of Pearls & Oysters), I had the opportunity to try a Macaroni and Cheese Kit from a local cheese maker, Smith’s Country Cheese. While the chef in my family is definitely my husband, I’m champion of the slow cooker, so this dish was perfect for me. I also liked the idea of supporting products from a local outfit.
Smith’s sent me what I affectionately called “cheese swag:” two kinds of their Farmstead Cheese, their Sharp Cheddar and their award-winning Smoke Gouda; a box of elbow macaroni; and their recipe, which you can find at the bottom of this post. These elements make up their Mac and Cheese Kit, though additional ingredients (butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper) are needed.
The recipe was easy-to-follow, and it took 20 minutes to assemble everything.
The most time-consuming step was shredding a pound of cheese.
After all of the ingredients cooked in the slow cooker for about four hours, our dinner looked like the gourmet macaroni and cheese you’d see in a food magazine. The dish was way above the quality my kids are used to; I’m a mac-in-the-box kind of a Mom. My son, in fact, was perplexed that this dish wasn’t shaped like dinosaurs or Lighting McQueen. The Gouda gave it a bacony flavor that was quite nice, and the breadcrumbs added welcome texture.
The dish is rich, so I served it with some raw carrots (my kids’ favorite),
and it was a hit (especially with my husband).
If I made it again, I’d consider adding in some veggies
(I’ve taken to folding pureed squash or carrots into dinner lately) or even protein,
such a chicken sausage, or using a whole grain pasta to add some additional fiber.
Smith’s Gourmet Macaroni & Cheese
16 oz box of elbow macaroni
3 cups cream sauce with cheese
Buttered bread crumbs
Cook macaroni according to directions on the box. Drain. Pour half the elbows into a greased 3-5 qt. slow cooker. Cover with half the sauce. Add the rest of the macaroni and the remainder of the sauce. Top with buttered bread crumbs. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours until bubbly.
Cream Sauce with Cheese
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1/2 lb. or more of Smith’s Farmstead Smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 lb. of more of Smith’s Farmstead Sharp Cheddar, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter. Stir in flour to make a paste. Slowly add milk and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce comes to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Turn heat to low. Add shredded cheeses and stir until cheeses are completely melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Buttered Bread Crumbs
Melt 2 tablespoons. Add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs. Stir until blended.
Disclaimer: I was provided with the Macaroni and Cheese Kit from Smith’s Country Cheese, but all of the opinions in this post belong to me.