In honor of the Seahawks making it to the Super Bowl this year, I am hereby changing my name from Mac & Cheese Chick to Mac & Cheesehawk.
Enough with the chit-chat, let’s talk Super Bowl food. You have your chips and dips; these are the foundation of most Super Bowl munchie menus. Someone, especially here in Seattle, invariably brings along a veggie plate and while most of the revelers scoff, a small percentage hover around it like it’s a lifeboat. A healthy lifeboat in a sea of unhealthy food options. And then, we get to the good stuff. The serious, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs casseroles that are a mainstay of a good Super Bowl feast. It is one of the few times each year that you can drag out the heavy, mom-made recipes that you secretly love but tend to forgo in the spirit of being “healthy”.
Top on the list of these amazing mainstays of Super Bowl food is the wonder that is macaroni and cheese. And because the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, we needed to gather the best mac and cheese recipes from Seattle’s top restaurants. After all, if you’re going to serve macaroni and cheese at your Seahawks Super Bowl party, it had better be from a Seattle mac and cheese institution.
Here are the recipes for our favorite mac and cheeses from our favorite restaurants around the Seattle area.
Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese
Beecher’s, for me, is the gold-standard of cheese. It stands to reason, then, that their “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese lives up to the hype. Let me tell you, it goes way beyond the hype to a totally different plane (more about that here). Amazing stuff, it is.
And even better? If you’re just not up to whipping up a batch for the Super Bowl, you can pop down to their Pike Place store and grab some freshly made. Or if you’re feeling really lazy, like me on occasion, you can just order it from Amazon Fresh to be delivered to your door. There’s even a gluten-free option. Excellent.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 7 ounces Flagship cheese, grated (about 1¾ cups)
- 1 ounce Just Jack cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- 6 ounces penne pasta (about 3¼ cups)
- 1 ounce (1/4 cup) Flagship cheese, grated
- 1 ounce (1/4 cup) Just Jack cheese, grated
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- To prepare sauce, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter or oil an 8-inch baking dish. Cook penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and drain well.
- Combine pasta and sauce in a medium bowl; mix carefully but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheeses and then the chili powder.
- Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
icon Grill’s Ultimate Macaroni & Cheese with Molten Cheese Sauce
icon Grill’s mac and cheese is the stuff of legends. Some blessed soul thought, “Let’s take macaroni and cheese to the next level. We’ll start with a stellar mac and cheese. and THEN, we’ll pour more luscious cheese on top!” I’m already salivating. Your Super Bowl guests will be torn between watching the game and scarfing your amazing mac and cheese. And yes, they use Velveeta. In fact, they downright revel in their Velveeta use. I love them for it.
Chef Nick Musser is so dedicated to macaroni and cheese that he held a mac-and-cheese-making contest a few years back and featured the four winning recipes in the restaurant for an entire month. Now that’s my kind of thinking.
- SAUCE BASE
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pinch dry mustard
- 1 splash Tabasco (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (either buy them or remove the crust off of some old bread and chop fine in a food processor)
- ¼ pound fine-grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
- MIX FOR MACARONI AND CHEESE
- 1 pound macaroni
- ¾ pound sharp yellow Cheddar cheese
- ½ pound Gruyere cheese
- ½ pound extra sharp white Cheddar cheese
- 4 Roma tomatoes, diced fine
- 24 1-inch cubes Velveeta (there it is again!)
- MOLTEN CHEESE SAUCE
- 8 1-inch cubes Velveeta (yea, that's right, Velveeta)
- ¼ pound sharp yellow Cheddar cheese
- SAUCE BASE
- Melt butter in a 4 quart sauce pot over medium high heat. Add flour and mix until flour is incorporated into butter. Cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Add milk and chicken broth and continue to cook until sauce is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and season with mustard, Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Allow to cool before using.
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- MIX FOR MACARONI AND CHEESE
- Cook macaroni in salted water, drain and rinse with cold water. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add ¾ of the Sauce Base (about 2½ cups) and mix thoroughly. Place the mix evenly into 4 small casserole dishes, or one large one. Sprinkle with topping and bake in a 400-degree oven until hot a bubbly.
- MOLTEN CHEESE SAUCE
- Take the remaining sauce base and warm over a medium burner in a small sauce pan. When warm, add cheese and cook until melted. Season as necessary. Save for service.
- TO SERVE
- Make sure to present each serving with lots of molten cheese sauce!
WildFin American Grill’s Cougar Gold Macaroni & Cheese
Ask around the greater Seattle area about who has the best mac and cheese, and WildFin American Grill will invariably be mentioned. With locations in Issaquah and Renton, they have the Pacific Northwest covered. Executive Chef Chris Bryant was born and raised here, and he loves to highlight our area’s best local ingredients. In WildFin’s mac and cheese, these ingredients (Cougar Gold and Tillamook cheeses) shine.
In the future, minstrels will sing about their Cougar Gold Chili Prawn Mac & Cheese. Because Chris knows the Mac & Cheesehawk is a purist at heart, he has offered a more pure, spotlight-on-the-pasta-and-cheese recipe for WildFin’s ethereal Cougar Gold Macaroni & Cheese.
- MACARONI & CHEESE
- 5 cups cooked fusilli pasta
- 3 cups lobster bechamel sauce
- ¾ cup Cougar Gold cheese, shredded
- ¼ cup Tillamook Cheddar cheese, shredded
- ¼ cup bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated
- LOBSTER BECHAMEL SAUCE (makes about 5 cups)
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
- 2¼ teaspoons lobster base*
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- MACARONI & CHEESE
- In a large sauce pan, place the lobster bechamel sauce, bacon and the cooked pasta along with both the cheeses and mix well. Let cook over low heat until the sauce is warm, the cheese is melted, and the pasta is well coated.
- Transfer the heated mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and Parmesan. Place in a 350-degree oven and let bake for about 3 - 5 minutes or until breadcrumbs and Parmesan have browned and the sauce is bubbling.
- LOBSTER BECHAMEL SAUCE
- Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the flour and mix it to form a roux. Let the flour and butter roux cook over low heat about 1 minute. Add the milk to the pan and whisk the mixture until it is smooth with a wire whisk. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and mix them until smooth over low heat.
Kingfish Cafe’s Macaroni & Cheese
Those in the know in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, when asked about the best mac and cheese in their ‘hood, might or might not be willing to share their knowledge of the Kingfish Cafe with you. Because if too many folks know how decadent it is, they’ll never be able to elbow in to the restaurant for a table. Chef Kenyetta Carter puts her own spin on a down-home favorite and the result is simply sublime.
Owners and Seattle locals Laurel & Leslie Coaston explain where the Kingfish Cafe got its name, “The restaurant name comes from George “Kingfish” Stevens, a character on the 1950′s Television show Amos ‘n Andy; his business ventures were many, and often chaotic, but always comical. Like “Kingfish”, we encountered a myriad of challenges on our journey.” Seattleites are very glad that they persevered through that journey. Noted on TripAdvisor, Kingfish Cafe’s mac and cheese is among the “Best Mac N Cheese on Earth!” I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
- 2½ cups uncooked elbow pasta
- ½ gallon boiling water
- 1 cup diced green pepper
- 1 cup diced white onion
- ¼ cup butter-flavored liquid oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 1 12½ ounce can cream of mushroom soup
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup 2% milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 10 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 10 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook elbow pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Strain and put in a large bowl with a dash of olive oil. Toss and set aside.
- Saute onions and pepper in butter oil until translucent. Add salt and pepper. Add to macaroni. Mix in cream of mushroom soup. In another bowl, mix eggs, milk and cream. Add to macaroni. Add half of cheese to macaroni mix. Mix well.
- Grease a deep casserole dish and pour mixture in. Top with remaining cheese and cover with lightly oiled foil. Back for 1 hour. Macaroni is done when center is set and top is lightly brown. Remove foil to cool. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Heartland Cafe’s Mac N Cheese
Heartland Cafe is located in West Seattle but their heart is in the Midwest. Owner Jay Wergin is from Wisconsin, and he proudly used his Midwestern heritage as motivation when he partnered with fellow owner Jeff Loren to open the Heartland Cafe. Similar to Cap Hill natives coveting Kingfish Cafe as their own, you’ll find that West Seattle folks can be just as cagey when asked about their favorite local mac and cheese. If you’re lucky (and they like you), they might tell you about their personal favorite mac and cheese at the Heartland Cafe. I didn’t have to actually beat it out of anyone, but it was close!
The mission of the Heartland Cafe is to “provide a friendly, neighborhood café serving Midwestern comfort food like mom used to make.” They definitely exceed there! Their Mac N Cheese features Tillamook cheese and Seattle’s Bavarian Meats beer bratwurst (it’s boiled in Manny’s Pale Ale). It is scratch-made and you can taste the love in every bite. They’re hoping to offer their fresh sausages in grocery stores in the future, but I am secretly hoping they offer their Mac N Cheese as well. In the meantime, you can make a very similar version at home! I say similar because their recipe is more of an outline than a complete recipe. But if you enjoy cooking at all, you should be able to work with it.
- elbow macaroni noodles
- heavy cream
- Tillamook Cheddar cheese, shredded
- blue cheese, crumbled
- Asiago cheese, shredded
- American cheese
- Seasonings to taste
- Seattle's Bavarian Meats beer bratwurst
- We start with elbow macaroni noodles, then add heavy cream, Tillamook Cheddar, blue and Asiago cheeses with a touch of American cheese melted on top. It is prepared to order on the stove top and seasoned with a blend of house seasonings.
- We top it off with Seattle's Bavarian Meats' beer bratwurst, which has been boiled in a Manny's Pale Ale with water and onions.
5 Spot’s Macaroni & Cheese
The 5 Spot is a Seattle icon and phenomenon. Home of the “American Food Festival Series“, their menu offers big flavored food and kitsch from all points of the continental U.S. While a portion of the menu changes, some items have a permanent spot. Among those is the 5 Spot’s macaroni and cheese.
General Manager Holly Olson was able to offer me a recipe similar to the Heartland Cafe’s: it is an outline, so home cooks must be a little creative in their preparation. But, I think it is worth trying – it is indeed delicious! One of the highlights of this particular mac and cheese is the Macrina breadcrumb topping. It takes this recipe from great to GREAT, and makes it one of the top mac and cheeses in the Pacific Northwest.
- 4 ounces heavy cream
- 1 ounce Cheddar cheese, shredded
- ⅓ ounce Parmesan Belgiosio cheese, shredded
- 6 ounces cooked macaroni
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ slice Macrina Giuseppe bread, crumbed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- We add cream to a saute pan and then add the Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Stir until melted, then season with salt and pepper. Toss in macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer into buttered casserole dish.
- Mix the Macrina breadcrumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle over the mac and cheese and broil in an oven for a couple of minutes until the top is browned. Keep an eye on the dish in the oven as it can burn quickly.
So there you have it – six delectable mac and cheese recipes to choose from. Which will you make to honor the Seahawks playing in the Super Bowl?
If you’re an overachiever like me, you just may want to make them all and have the most epic taste test ever.
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