Recipe: Now THIS is mac 'n' cheese

It used to cost me in the neighborhood of $500 to get, arguably, the world's best mac 'n' cheese. That's the rough cost of an airline ticket to Seattle and a take-out casserole from Beecher's Handmade Cheese store at the Pike Place Market. Beecher's recently added an East Coast location in lower Manhattan. The new 8,000-square-foot shop/factory/restaurant opened in the Flatiron District.

Across the street from Beecher's is the High Line Park, an elevated linear walkway, built on a section of the former elevated freight railroad spur called the West Side Line. It has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway. About a mile-and-a-half long, the city's newest park is a marvel of gardens, sculptures, lawns, art installations and surprise eateries.

Next trip to the Apple, get the city's best two-fer -- excellent cheese and the hottest tourist site in Manhattan: Beecher's Handmade Cheese, 900 Broadway, at 20th Street (1-212-466-3340 or beechershandmadecheese.com).

If you must, substitute an aged cheddar cheese for Beecher's. It won't be quite the same, but still pretty, pretty good.

BEECHER'S MAC AND CHEESE

(Tested by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

12 ounces good-quality penne pasta

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups whole milk

14 ounces Beecher's Flagship Cheese, grated

2 ounces Monterey Jack, grated

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, depending on the cheese

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook penne for 2 minutes less than recommended on the package. Rinse in cold water; set aside. Pasta should still have a slight crunch.

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly until sauce has thickened (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.

Add cheeses (reserve 2 ounces to top final dish), salt to taste, half the chile powder and all of the garlic powder. Stir until cheese has melted and all ingredients are well incorporated, about 3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together cooked pasta and sauce gently but thoroughly. Pour pasta into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with remaining cheese and remaining chile powder.

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 10.

-- Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Marlene Parrish can be reached at marleneparrish(at)earthlink.net

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.


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