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Mac & Cheese, Please

Photo courtesy of Hayden Walker.

There was a revolution in how Americans prepared food just after the end of the Second World War. It was inspired by the C-Rations we developed to feed our troops in far-flung places all over the world. Previous to that, canned goods were single ingredients, like peas, beans, or tuna.  

The first I remember was Chef Boyardee’s spaghetti and meatballs. I loved that stuff, but mom served it only when she and dad had something to do in the evening, and a quick meal for the kids was needed. The market quickly expanded to all sorts of canned and packaged convenience foods, from canned ravioli, to pizza kits, but my all time favorite was Kraft’s mac and cheese. 

I do still occasionally open a box of Kraft’s best, and it is just as good as ever, but if I want really good mac and cheese, I make it from scratch. As with  anything you cook, the quality of the ingredients is paramount, but with this dish, what is most important is the kind of cheese you use. American cheese is the most commonly used, but I am not a fan. A good cheddar or Swiss will do nicely, but my favorite is gruyere, the most famous and delicious of all melting cheeses.

Mac and cheese is such a simple dish, its just pasta, cheese, cream, butter and seasoning but it can be jazzed up to make it a super dish pretty easily. Use the best quality butter and cream you can find, and, of course, don’t over cook the pasta.

If you really want to make your mac and cheese special, add crispy fried Benton’s bacon. No other bacon will do, and Benton’s has to be ordered online. This is simply the best bacon in the world, hickory smoked and amazing in every way. Chop the crispy bacon into small pieces and sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese just before you serve it. Amazing!


Written by Julian Brunt

Julian Brunt is a food and travel writer that has been writing about the food culture of the Deep South for over a decade. He is the eleventh generation of his family to live in the South, grew up in Europe, traveled extensively for the first fifteen years after graduating from the University of Maryland, University College, Heidelberg, Germany. Today, he's a contributor for multiple publications, including Our Mississippi Home. He's also appeared on Gordon Ramsay's television show, "To Hell and Back in 24 Hours."


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