Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar with Avocado, Lime, and Shell Pasta

avocado, Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar with Avocado, Garrett McCord, lime, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese, pasta, Photos: Matt Armendariz, Stephanie Stiavetti

When I found out fellow food writers Stephanie and Garrett had written a book about macaroni and cheese, I was ….well, frankly, I was jealous.  And my kids were jealous.  Who wouldn’t want to think about and cook and eat macaroni and cheese for an extended period of time? 

But we all know negative emotions are bad for us and the universe, so I pushed the envy away and focused on how lucky we all are to have dozens of new recipes for one of the best dishes in the world.  Here’s what the authors have to say:

We are Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord, authors of the new book Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese (2013; Little, Brown & Co). We fancy ourselves food writers and cookbook authors, but above all else we are cheese lovers — and our goal is to share that love with every person we meet. The recipe we’re sharing below is one we developed by looking at cheese and asking ourselves, what else can it do?

We had never before considered pairing cheddar and avocado in a macaroni and cheese dish, but once the idea materialized, it made perfect sense. This dish is colorful, flavorful, and rich without overdoing it.

Both kids and adults will find appeal here; grownups will love the buttery texture, and kids will love the fact that it’s, well, mac and cheese. Let there be peace at the dinner table.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Photo by: Matt Armendariz, Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

If you ever have the opportunity to wander through the Pike Place Market, the heart of the food scene in Seattle, you’ll likely come across the Beecher’s Handmade Cheese shop.

Inside, you can sample their wares and watch the cheesemaking process unfold before your eyes. The proprietors serve what they call the World’s Best mac and cheese; with its jaunty kick of spice and smooth sauce, it’s definitely a contender for the title.

We love to use Beecher’s Flagship—a fierce, creamy paragon of Cheddar if ever there was one—in this avocado macaroni and cheese. The svelte texture of avocado melds so well with this sharp, tangy Cheddar. Smooth and buttery with a slight citrus tang, this jade-colored mac is a casual way to enjoy mac and cheese.

1 jalapeño pepper

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lime

2 green onions, green parts only, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 ripe avocados, pits and skin removed, divided

10 ounces conchiglie or other medium shell pasta

1½ cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, shredded

¼ cup chopped cilantro

Lime wedges for garnish

  1. Remove the stem from the jalapeño and cut the jalapeño half. Remove the ribs and seeds—or keep them, depending on how much heat you like. Toss the jalapeño into the bowl of a food processor with the lime zest and lime juice. Add green onions, garlic, and flesh of 2 of the avocados. Blitz together into a very smooth paste.
  2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain through a colander and set aside.
  3. To prepare the mornay sauce, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to steam and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium flame. Add the flour and stir with a flat-edge wooden paddle just until the roux begins to take on a light brown color, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and stir constantly until the sauce thickens enough to evenly coat the back of a spoon—a finger drawn along the back of the spoon should leave a clear swath. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper. Add cheese to sauce, stirring until completely melted. Add the avocado-onion paste and whisk together until uniform and creamy. The key word here, if you haven’t guessed, is smooth. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the pasta and cilantro to the sauce and stir together. Dice the last avocado and toss together with the mac and cheese. Serve immediately with a splash of lime juice.

Alternative cheeses: Jasper Hill Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Fiscalini Bandage Wrapped, Cheddar, Shelburne Reserve

Wine pairings: Pinot Grigio, Verdelho, Godello

Additional pairings for the cheese, outside of this recipe: corn, cooked black beans, persimmons, most chili peppers, winter squashes such pumpkin or butternut

Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar with Avocado, Lime, and Shell Pasta

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