Cowgirl Creamery Cooks: Classic Mac and Cheese [Recipe]

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Want to know how to plan a cheese course? What’s the best wine to serve with cheese? How to make the perfect mac and cheese? The stunningly beautiful Cowgirl Creamery Cooks cookbook has all the answers — and more!

cheeseJust north of San Francisco, in the rolling hills of Marin County, the Cowgirls — as they’re known — make some of the finest artisanal cheeses in the United States. Between them, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, the co-founders of the Cowgirl Creamery have built an industry changing business and Cowgirl Creamery Cooks shares the story of how the Cowgirls did it.

It’s a primer on tasting, buying, storing, pairing and appreciating all kinds of cheese.

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks is also a sumptuous collection of both complex and simple recipes, with 75 appetizers, soups, salads, snacks, entrees and desserts that showcase cow-, goat-, and sheep-milk cheeses (and while you could use Cowgirl Creamery cheeses in these delicious dishes, you certainly don’t need to). And while the photos are incredible and advice indispensible, it is the recipes that make this a truly essential cookbook. From classics like a simple mac and cheese recipe to a delicious vegetable lasagna recipe with three-cheeses mushrooms and spinach, to a new take on the Thanksgiving classic potato gratin, this cookbook delivers everything you need to know to get the best from your fromage. As an added, and somewhat unintended bonus, many of the most delicious dishes are vegetarian recipes.

And its not just the recipes that you’ll love. Throughout Cowgirl Creamery Cooks, the incredible photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton portray the myriad of cheeses, finished dishes, and the landscapes and people that created them. Finally, the book is also more than a mere cookbook as it also chronicles the story of the rise of the organic food movement.

Classic Mac And Cheese

Recipe by Cowgirl Creamery

This version is creamy and simple, so the flavor of your cheese comes through. Choose a good sharp Cheddar as a base; you need 16 ounces of cheese plus the Parmesan. You can use all Cheddar or a combination of half Cheddar and half ends and bits. Some folks add parsley or other herbs before baking (as shown in photo). We like to make it without herbs.

Yield: Serves 4


  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp All-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups Whole milk
  • 3/4 cup Heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 pound Grating cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Hot Sauce
  • 12 ounces Pasta (elbow or corkscrew)
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko or fresh bread crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp Grated Parmesan or other cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven, and butter a 3 qt baking dish. Set a large pot of unsalted water over high heat.
  • While the water heats, melt the butter in a large saucepan. When the butter has finished foaming, stir in the flour, whisking until the flour takes on a little color, about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and pour in the milk slowly, while whisking continuously. Return the pan to medium heat. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken (about 5 minutes) and then take the pan off the heat again; stir in the cream, mustard, and three-fourths of the cheese. Stir in the salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the hot sauce. Set the sauce aside.
  • Cook the pasta just until al dente. Drain (don’t rinse) and quickly stir the pasta into the cheese sauce, then pour into the prepared pan, scraping all the cheese sauce into the dish. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the pasta. Sprinkle the panko over the cheese, and sprinkle the Parmesan on top of that.
  • Bake until the mixture is bubbling on the edges and showing some golden brown color on top, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the dish cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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