Mac and cheese doesn't need improving, but chefs just can't resist adding new, rich touches to keep this classic comfort dish fresh.
This article first appeared in the 15 October 2007 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
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By Kate Leahy, Senior Associate Editor
Baked Macaroni with Serrano Ham, Leeks and Gruyère Cheese (pictured above)
Violet Restaurant, Santa Monica, Calif. Infusing the cream base for the baked pasta with browned Serrano ham and leeks before the addition of Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses gives Chef Jared Simons' upmarket macaroni and cheese deep, satisfying flavor.
Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H. When Andy Husbands, chef-owner of Tremont 647 Restaurant in Boston, visited the University of New Hampshire, he brought with him recipe ideas to integrate into the school's dining program. Not surprisingly, this dish, featuring lobster folded into the macaroni, proved especially popular among students and faculty.
Crab and Mascarpone Macaroni and Cheese
Phillips Seafood, multiple locations. Texture differentiation is a great way to add interest to baked noodle dishes. A sprinkling of breadcrumbs, walnuts and Cheddar cheese contrasts with the smooth decadence of crabmeat and mascarpone and Asiago cheeses.
Creamy Macaroni-Goat-Cheese Gratin
West End Tavern, Boulder, Colo. After a face lift and a menu change, this 16-year-old restaurant shows a renewed focus on upscale-casual pub fare. Chef Chris Blackwood's goat-cheese-and chive-flecked macaroni gratin is flavorful on its own, but the optional addition of smoky bacon heightens the dish's savory richness.