Dreamy Mac N Cheese by The Grazing Table
We have the honor of Maria Delay from The Grazing Table to feature a phenomenal dish! Check out her resize below!
My name is Maria DeLay: mom, wife, and last, but not least, (self-proclaimed) “food stylist” extraordinaire. I started The Grazing Table over 2 years ago. It was my tiny charcuterie dream. At the time, I didn’t realize the culinary journey that I was in for. I thought I would mainly be dabbling in the tasting and pairing of meats, cheeses, and spreads, but little did I know the flood gates of my food journey had been opened wide. I could easily say that the best discovery, hands and taste-buds down, was my discovery of Queen City & Co.
Not only are their canned coffees what caffeine dreams are made of, but their magnificently currated vinegar and oil selection left me stunned and inspired. Queen City oils and vinegars haven’t just made their way onto my charcuterie tables and boards, but I have found myself time and again drawing from their vast selection to whip up delicious creations for my family and friends. Which brings me here, fellow foodies and readers. I hope you enjoy the tasty concoctions I create as I partner with Queen City to bring recipes straight from my kitchen to yours.
I wouldn’t be 100% me if I didn’t admit that my taste buds and inspirations are greatly influenced by the weather and changing of the seasons, bringing me here to the first recipe I want to share with you. Oh the warm joys of an umptious comfort food classic, Mac ‘n Cheese. But trust me when I say, this isn’t your everyday Mac ‘n Cheese. It isn’t fussy or complicated, nor does it require culinary expertise or half a day of prep in the kitchen. If you want rich, easy, delightful goodness, read on.
This recipe was inspired by the Cooks Illustrated Simple Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese, but I love to take recipes, dissect them in my head, and doctor them up to suit my tastes. It’s the only multi-tasking I do well. So here we go, easy as pie. Why is that a saying anyways, making pie is a labor of love! But I digress.
Here’s what you will need to make a serving for 4:
8 oz Queen City Pasta
4 oz American Cheese
2 oz Sharp Cheddar
2 oz Gruyere
Pinch of Cayenne
½ tsp of Dijon Mustard
1 Cup of Milk
1 ½ Cups of Water
1-2 Sprigs of Thyme Leaves
⅓ Cup of Panko Bread Crumbs
1 tblsp of Queen City Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
2 tblsp of Grated Parmesean Cheese
Salt and Pepper
Bring water and milk to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in macaroni and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, until macaroni is soft (slightly past al dente), 6 to 8 minutes. Add American cheese, mustard, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in cheddar and gruyere until evenly distributed but not melted. Cover saucepan and let stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine panko, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in 8-inch nonstick skillet until panko is evenly moistened. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until evenly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Off heat, sprinkle Parmesan and Thyme over panko mixture and stir to combine. Transfer panko mixture to small bowl.
Stir macaroni until sauce is smooth (sauce may look loose but will thicken as it cools). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to warm serving dish and sprinkle panko mixture over top. Serve immediately.
So about the changes I made: first, I added gruyere cheese, because… duh. And to the crunchy panko toping, I added thyme and cooked it in the Queen City Tuscan Herb olive oil before sprinkling over the top of the Mac ‘n Cheese. And yes, you could just use any ole off the shelf elbow macaroni, but think of the Pastabilities of using Queen City’s seasonally charming Halloween or turkey-shaped Thanksgiving pasta! To my son’s delight, for this round I used the turkey-shaped pasta and it did not disappoint. He is often my sous chef, and I find any little addition of fun like specialty-shaped pasta noodles sparks his interests and gives us plenty of giggles. Not only this, but the Pastability brand distributed by Queen City & Co. packs an extra nutritional punch with lower carbs, higher protein, and more fiber. A win-win in my book.
The best way to conclude all of this is with a couple of hot tips. The most important tip, the main tip, the tip on which all others rely: NO BAGGED, SHREDDED CHEESE! I repeat, no bagged, shredded cheese. Once you cross over to blocked cheese from the deli counter, you will never return to the convenient waxed shreds. Some delis will even shred blocked cheese for you if you ask! The additives they use to keep the packaged, shredded cheese from clumping can really affect the outcome and texture of this dish. I can go on and on about this, but that’s a whole other blog for another time. Hot tip number 2: salt your past water! It should taste like the ocean. And finally, get fresh Thyme leaves. Please go with fresh, there’s a difference.
I cannot wait for you to create this dish! You will be amazed at the added flavor from the Queen City & Co. Tuscan Herb olive oil, not to mention all the fun of the specialty-shaped pasta! Available at the Queen City & Co. store in Muskogee, OK and Tulsa locations listed below. For more information about me and The Grazing Table, visit thegrazingtable.com and my Instagram Page @thegrazingtabletulsa. I’ll be sharing a video post about this blog on Instagram as soon as it’s posted! ”