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Mac + Cheese 3 Ways 

TAKING MAC + CHEESE TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Article by Avery Haberman

Photography by Avery Haberman

Recently, I've been experimenting with traditional dishes to elevate them to the next level. I decided to try a few renditions of a classic, Macaroni and Cheese. Mac and Cheese is a great dish to serve at dinners or gatherings with guests of all ages because it tends to be very kid friendly, yet it can also be transformed into a sophisticated dish by adding a plethora of ingredients. One of my new favorite renditions emerged by adding delicious basil pesto sauce which put an Italian spin on a classic mac and cheese recipe. For a sweet and savory version, I incorporated goat cheese and fig jam into the mix.

Not only did I want to transform classic mac and cheese by adding unique ingredients to it, but I also wanted to experiment with a couple of ingredients that I have not seen paired before. I combined mac and cheese and pulled brisket in a quesadilla and the outcome was even better than I expected it to be. I hope that you enjoy the recipes below.

Smoked Brisket & Mac and Cheese Quesadillas

Ingredients:

For 1 Quesadilla

1 cup cooked, shredded brisket (see recipe below)

1 cup cooked mac and cheese (see recipe below)

2 flour tortillas

1 cup shredded cheese

oil/butter to grease pan

Directions: 

  1. Place the tortilla in a large greased pan over medium heat.
  2. Cover the tortilla with shredded cheese, mac and cheese and the shredded brisket.
  3. Place another tortilla over the filling and flip to brown the other side. 
  4. Remove from heat when the cheese is melted and enjoy!


Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients: 

1 box elbow pasta

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese or shredded monterey jack cheese

Directions:

  1. Boil 4 to 6 quarts of salted water and add pasta for designated cook time.
  2. Drain pasta and set aside.
  3. In the same pot, bring milk and heavy cream to a simmer.
  4. Once simmering, add pasta and spices and stir together.
  5. When mixed, begin adding cheese in small portions while continuing to stir until cheese is melted and creamy. 
  6. Add more shredded cheese if desired and enjoy!


Smoked Brisket

Ingredients:

2 pound brisket

1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce

Directions: 

  1. Marinate brisket in BBQ sauce in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  2. Preheat smoker to 240 degrees and smoke brisket for about 3-4 hours until tender. Inner temperature should be 190-195 degrees.
  3. Remove meat from the smoker and let rest for about 15 minutes. 
  4. Once rested shred and enjoy!


Pesto Mac & Cheese

Ingredients: 

1 box gemelli pasta (or traditional elbow)

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese or shredded monterey jack cheese

1 cup Pesto sauce

½ cup parmesan cheese 

Directions:

  1. Boil 4 to 6 quarts of salted water and add pasta for designated cook time.
  2. Drain pasta and set aside.
  3. In the same pot, bring milk and heavy cream to a simmer.
  4. Once simmering, add pasta and spices and stir together.
  5. When mixed, begin adding cheese in small portions while continuing to stir until the cheese is melted and creamy. 
  6. Add more shredded cheese if desired.
  7. Lower heat and mix in basil pesto sauce and parmesan cheese.
  8. Enjoy!

Goat Cheese and Fig Jam Mac and Cheese

Ingredients: 

1 box gemelli pasta (or traditional elbow)

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/4 cups shredded pepper jack cheese or shredded monterey jack cheese

1 1/2 cups goat cheese 

½ cup fig jam

Directions:

  1. Boil 4 to 6 quarts of salted water and add pasta for designated cook time.
  2. Drain pasta and set aside.
  3. In the same pot bring milk and heavy cream to a simmer.
  4. Once simmering, add pasta and spices.
  5. When mixed, begin adding cheese in small portions while continuing to stir until creamy. 
  6. Add more shredded or goat cheese if desired. 
  7. Mix in the fig jam.
  8. Top with crumbled goat cheese and enjoy!

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