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Buttermilk-Blue Macaroni and Cheese

Homemade macaroni and cheese is one of those staple dishes that everyone adores. By using buttermilk instead of whole milk and a mild, creamy blue cheese (see notes) instead of cheddar, we've given classic mac and cheese a flavor makeover. The dish is creamy and tangy and perfect for serving with simple main dishes like broiled fish or chicken.

Buttermilk-Blue Macaroni and Cheese

Buttermilk-Blue Macaroni and Cheese

  • Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1-3/4 cups buttermilk (not fat-free)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper (white or black)
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 8 ounces blue cheese (see notes)
  • 3 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preparation:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the elbows and cook until tender but not soft (al dente). Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Heat the buttermilk in the microwave or a separate saucepan until very warm, but not scalded. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 2 quart saucepan pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, a tablespoon at a time and mix well. Continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and golden in color.

Slowly whisk in the warmed buttermilk and bring the mixture to a slow simmer. Add the mustard, salt, white pepper and thyme and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture is smooth and thickened, 7 to 8 minutes.

Stir the blue cheese and continue cooking until completely melted and creamy. Add the macaroni, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, then transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.

While the macaroni and cheese bakes, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and crumbled bacon and combine. Sprinkle the mix on top of the macaroni and cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes to toast the crumbs.

Makes 6 servings

About the blue cheese:
Try to choose a blue cheese that is on the mild side with a creamy texture. Good choices include Danish blue, Gorgonzola (Italy), or Saint Agur (France). If you prefer to tone down the blue flavor, use 4 just ounces of blue cheese and add 4 ounces of a milder cheese like Havarti or Muenster.

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