Beecher’s cheese sauce homemade mac and cheese

Last time we made mac and cheese it turned out pretty good, but we thought we could do better. Digging around on my favorite food site in the world, foodgawker, I found this recipe from My Cooking Quest in the #4 all-time most gawked slot. We had just stopped at a cheese place in Wisconsin and picked up some 4-year aged Cheddar, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try this sucker out.

The important part of this (and probably most) mac and cheese is the cheese sauce. As My Cooking Quest informatively points out, we actually make a couple of key components of many sauces along the way, namely a roux and a béchamel. Neat! Don’t be concerned by those fancy French names, they’re quite easy to make! A big thanks to our friend Dooms for tending to our cheese sauce as we were frantically grating and pasta making!

Beecher’s cheese sauce homemade mac and cheese

These two bits can be done in tandem. We started the cheese sauce at the same time we started boiling the water for the pasta. If it’s just one person cooking, it may be a better idea to make the pasta first since it can sit and the cheese sauce requires a lot of attention.

Beecher’s Flagship Cheese Sauce

The below recipe makes 4 cups, so you only need a half recipe

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
14 ounces semi-hard cheese, grated (we didn’t have Beecher’s so we used 4-year aged cheddar)
2 ounces grated semi-soft cheese (we used Gorgonzola)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for 2 minutes. As My Cooking Quest says, “You just made a roux, a substance used for thickening sauces!”

Slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until the sauce becomes thick. This is what is known as a béchamel. Fancy!

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add everything else to it: the two cheeses, the salt, the chile powder, and the garlic powder. Stir it until everything is melted and well-mixed, which should take about 3 minutes. If needed, you can put the saucepan back on low heat in order to melt the cheese.

BAM! Cheese sauce. Now let’s use it to make mac and cheese!

Mac and cheese

8 ounces penne pasta (half a box)
2 cups Beecher’s Flagship Cheese Sauce (from above)
2 oz cheddar, grated (or 1 oz cheddar + 1 oz gruyere if you have it)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp smoked paprika or chipotle chile powder

Preheat your oven to 350. Oil or butter up an 8-inch square baking dish. Make the penne according to the directions on the box, but cook it for 2 minutes less than stated, since it will continue to cook a bit in the oven. Once the pasta is done, rinse it in cold water and set aside.

Combine the pasta and the cheese sauce in a big bowl and mix it all up. Scrape the pasta and cheese into the 8-ince baking dish.

This next part is really up to you, but generally you’re going to want some cheese and some spices. Maybe some bread crumbs if that’s you’re style. The original recipe recommends using 1 oz cheddar and 1 oz gruyere with some chipotle chile powder. We used 1 oz of the 4-year cheddar and 1 oz of some bacon ranch cheddar (same as from our other mac and cheese) and some smoke paprika. Whatever you decide to use, sprinkle the cheese across the top of the pasta, then sprinkle your spices across as well.

Throw it in the oven uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top gets a nice golden crust. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then eat!

The result

Man, this mac and cheese was great. We had saved some for someone who was supposed to come over later, then we said screw it and ate their mac and cheese. You don’t understand, man. You weren’t there. It looked so good I ate half of it before taking a picture. We drank Fat Tire, a classic, and added a little sriracha because it makes mac and cheese even more amazing.

I will make this mac and cheese again with not a single difference. It is perfect and delicious. The cheese sauce is, as mentioned, the key. A common problem with cheese sauces is that they either end up too liquidy and none of the flavor or cheese sticks to the noodles or they stay too cheesy and end up just being stringy chunks of cheese. This cheese sauce was a perfect balance, and had incredibly cheesy flavor to boot. It does not disappoint.

  • Bridget

    I’m so excited I found your blog, it’s fantastic! This mac and cheese looks amazing!

    • Nick DePetris

      I’m glad that you like the blog! If you ever try the mac and cheese, let me know how it turns out!