Cream cheese is a super-stealth ingredient. Seriously. Don’t believe me? I’ve seen it in a pecan pie and in some Kraft shredded cheeses.
And in many, many fabulous mac and cheese recipes, you will find cream cheese. So I figured – why not bring it out into the open? Shed a little light on the obvious – that cream cheese is versatile, amazing, and adds a wonderful tactile texture and mouth feel to most dishes. Missing that creamy element that is so sought after in mac and cheese recipes? Add some cream cheese! With that in mind, I stirred up my latest mac and cheese. Thanks to Food For My Family for the recipe inspiration!
First, cook the pasta (I used Barilla Plus penne because I love how substantial it is) according to package directions, then drain and set aside. In addition to the cream cheese (thanks, Philadelphia brand!), I decided that a medium and an aged Irish cheddar would go nicely in this recipe. Well, that and the fact that I had both on hand. I don’t call it “lazy”, I call it, “making use of the resources you have available.” So there.
While the pasta is cooking, mince a good-sized shallot and melt one tablespoon of the butter in a small sauté pan. Sauté the minced shallot in the melted butter for two minutes or until translucent. Remove the sautéed shallot from heat and set aside.
Next, shred your cheeses (unless, like me, you cheated and used a cheese that was already shredded…).
Doesn’t the aged Irish cheddar look amazing? It crumbled, rather than shredded. It was a beautiful sight.
In the same pot used for cooking the pasta, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for one minute. Slowly add the milk, still whisking, then add the cream cheese, Dijon mustard, seasoned pepper and seasoned salt. Whisk to combine, then cook over medium heat until thickened, about five minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the sautéed shallots and cheddar cheeses. Stir until the cheeses are melted and everything is combined and happy. Add the cooked penne and stir once more to combine.
After plating your mac and cheese, scatter some fresh snipped chives across the top and try not to inhale the whole batch in one sitting (I dare you)!
The verdict? Three and a half enthusiastic elbows up. The shallot added a nice layer of flavor, and the snipped chives on top just added to the subtle oniony goodness. Of course, the cream cheese made this mac and cheese one of the creamiest I’ve encountered – SO good, you could just sink in and get lost in it.
Here’s my recipe, inspired by Food For My Family.
- 8 ounces Barilla Plus penne
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1½ cups fat-free milk
- 6 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1 cup Tillamook medium cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ cup Kerry gold Aged cheddar, or other extra sharp white cheddar
- 1 teaspoon country Dijon mustard
- seasoned pepper to taste
- seasoned salt to taste
- snipped chives
- Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, melt one tablespoon butter in a small sauté pan. Sauté minced shallot in melted butter for two minutes or until translucent. Remove the sautéed shallot from heat and set aside.
- In the same pot used for cooking the pasta, melt remaining butter. Once butter has melted, whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for one minute. Slowly add milk, still whisking, then add cream cheese, Dijon mustard, seasoned pepper and seasoned salt. Whisk to combine, then cook over medium heat until thickened, about five minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in sautéed shallot and cheddar cheeses. Stir until cheeses are melted. Add cooked penne and stir once more to combine.
- After plating your mac and cheese, scatter some fresh snipped chives across the top.
- Serve and scarf down immediately!
Nom, nom, nom.
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