Getting My Mac On

52 macs in 52 weeks

June 29, 2020
MaryAnne

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Week 17: Beecher’s World’s Best Mac

A few years ago, I noticed something called “Beecher’s ‘World’s Best Mac & Cheese” in the freezer case at Costco. Having always been a big fan of the mac genre, I knew immediately that I had to try this one. I mean, world’s BEST? That’s a pretty big claim. (Spoiler alert: it’s not bragging if it’s true.) Beecher’s is a well-known cheesemaking company in Seattle and this product features their “flagship” sharp white cheddar. I was drooling from the start.

Being Costco, it was a large, weighty tray – I felt like a prehistoric hunter taking down a mastodon when I hefted nearly three pounds of what promised to be some amazing cheesy goodness into the cart. Of course, when I got home, there was nowhere near enough room in my freezer, so I cooked it the same night. And just like that, I was hooked. It really was the BEST mac & cheese I’d ever tasted. I think the box claims something ridiculous like “6-8 servings” – it might technically be that many servings, but it’s definitely not that many MEALS. I’m pretty sure it was gone as if it had never existed by the time dinner was over the next night. It’s also possible I licked the foil baking tray clean enough to go straight into the recycle bin.

It’s one of those Costco things that comes and goes – you never know if it will be in stock. When I see it, I buy it. At one point when I hadn’t seen it for a long time, I found it at Safeway, although in a much smaller size (20 oz. vs. 46 oz.) but almost the same price, so not nearly as good a deal. (I still bought it. Duh.)

Every time I ate it, I tried to figure out why it was so much better than other macs. Sure, the sharp white cheddar was fantastic, but what was that elusive something else? Finally – I never claimed to be all that swift – I took a look at the ingredient list. Turns out, it has “chipotle puree” – it’s not overly spicy, but it’s just enough to give it some bite, and it’s a game-changer.

Since I started this project, I have not bought it – the last thing I needed was MORE mac & cheese in my fridge – but I knew I wanted to try and copycat it at some point. The last time I was at Costco, I was perusing the cheese section, looking for inspiration, and there were a bunch of wedges of Beecher’s Flagship Cheese. Sold.

Beecher’s is even kind enough to post the recipe on their website. I followed it almost exactly.

Beecher’s “World Famous” Mac

Adapted from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces penne pasta
  • 8 ounces Beecher’s Flagship Cheese, shredded
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. flour
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese (see notes)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo (see notes)
  • Pinch of garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the penne for 8 minutes. This is a baked mac, so you want the pasta a little firmer when it goes in the oven. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Melt butter over medium heat and add the flour, whisking for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, and continue whisking; cook until it thickens. The recipe said 10 minutes, it took about 5 on my stove.
  • Remove from heat and add 1¾ cup of the Flagship cheese and half the Jack cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • Add the salt, adobo sauce, and garlic powder and stir to combine.
  • Add the pasta and stir to coat.
  • Spread in a 9×9 baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Grate some more if you want – I did! Sprinkle with chili powder, or in my case, paprika because apparently I don’t have any chili powder.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.

RESULTS

It tastes JUST LIKE the kind I get at Costco. It was SO. GOOD.  SOOOOOO GOOOOOD. My ONLY complaint is that is doesn’t make ENOUGH. Next time, I will double this – I still have more than half a wedge of cheese, so I may make more THIS WEEK.

The first perfect score!

NOTES

  • The Beecher’s recipe, understandably, calls for their Just Jack cheese – I didn’t see that at Costco, so I just used generic Monterey Jack.
  • The online recipe calls for chili powder instead of adobo sauce. In one place, I saw it referred to as chipotle chili powder. But the box says “chipotle puree” – I didn’t have chili powder, and chipotle puree is apparently chipotle peppers, water, tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, paprika, and garlic. That sounded like a lot of effort, so I thought the adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers would be an easier way to get the flavor I was looking for. It definitely worked!

Posted June 28, 2020

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