We’ve all been there. You go to the market, buy some cheese with the best of intentions, eat some of it, and then…. (insert suspenseful horror film music for effect)…. you wrap it up, it gets moved to a dark, lonely corner of your refrigerator, and the next time you see it, it’s a sad, moldy, desiccated little shell of its former self.
Saxelby Cheesemongers is here to tell you that this tragedy need not be the end of your unintentionally fridge-cured cheeses! Even our own cheesemongers have been known to accumulate a bevy of odds and ends that can be transformed from their ugly-duckling selves to beautiful, delicious swans. Ok, maybe that wasn’t quite right. No one is going to be eating any swans here, but we will give you some tips, tricks, and recipes for salvaging odd bits of cheese you find in your fridge.
First and foremost, there’s mac and cheese. It’s a year-round favorite, but when the weather starts to get a bit cooler, that smell of bubbling browning cheese in the oven is just something else all together! This recipe was inspired by two of our favorite customers, Dave and Jen, who are masters of cheese-nub-utilization.
Cheese Nub Mac & Cheese (adapted from Epicurious and Dave and Jen)
Stuff you’ll need:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
About 24 ounces assorted cheeses, cubed, grated, or crumbled
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried pasta (elbow macaroni or rigatoni are my faves)
3/4 cup bread crumbs (optional, but awesome)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the half-and-half and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add half of the cheese mixture and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Stir in the nutmeg and cayenne; season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente (or according to the instructions on the package). Drain well. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the cheese sauce and all but 1/4 cup of the remaining cheese and stir until combined. Spread the pasta in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
In a small glass bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave oven. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and stir until evenly moistened. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the pasta. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
If you’ve made all the mac and cheese you can eat, you can also make Fromage Fort, a French cheese spread, from bits of ground up cheese, garlic, olive oil, wine and herbs, or Beer Cheese, a similar idea, only made with beer!