Homemade Pimento Mac & Cheese with Tillamook
Spending a lot of time out on the West Coast I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Tillamook more times than I can count. But finding it in the South has always been difficult. So when I heard Tillamook made their move to Southern distribution I jumped in the car and made a beeline to my nearest Publix and loaded up on their ice cream and all of the cheeses. I’m talking blocks, slices, and pre-shredded, it’s that good y’all.
For those not familiar with Tillamook let me give you a cliff notes version of why they’re the best. Based in Oregon, Tillamook has been around for over 100 years and through that entire time they’ve been farmer owned, made up of about 80 farming families. They’re committed to the best practices and stewardship, and are guided by the belief that everyone deserves real food that makes them feel good every day. And feel good is what their food does. It really is the absolute best.
In celebration of Tillamook now being readily available in the South they partnered with Sweet Auburn BBQ on an event called Melty Fest. If you saw my stories on Instagram the other night you would have seen just how amazing the event was, if you missed it you can check out my highlight reel. Anyway, Sweet Auburn has been using Tillamook since the beginning in their Pimento Cheese Stuffed Won Tons. Yep, you heard that right, Pimento Cheese Stuffed Won Tons. We even had the opportunity to create a few of our own.
Wanting to get in on the action, and being inspired by all things Tillamook and Southern I decided why not combine two of my personal favorites; pimento cheese and mac & cheese. Wow, I’m so glad I did.
The idea that homemade mac & cheese could never get any better was immediately flipped on its head with the addition of pimento cheese. The ooey-gooey flavor we’ve all come to love from mac & cheese was simply enhanced by the classic Southern Staple of a recipe. The pimentos, hot sauce and Worcestershire gave it a subtle bite that you’ve come to expect from pimento cheese, but combining it with the noodles and even more Tillamook cheese and then baking it with breadcrumbs, well there really are no words!
Below you’ll find the recipe that may or may not change your life for the better. A few things to note; you absolutely can make a lot of this ahead of time, but the key really is in moving quickly with the rue and stirring like crazy with the cheese addition on the stovetop. So make sure you have all of your ingredients ready to go and your oven pre-heated. Enjoy friends! Truly, MKR
Tillamook Pimento Mac & Cheese
1 pound pasta (cooked with 2 tablespoons salt, drained and set aside)
1 qt. whole milk
9 tablespoons salted butter
6-8 tablespoons flour
1 package Tillamook extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 16oz.
1 package Tillamook colby jack cheese shredded, (you can also buy the Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut shreds as well)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cups panko breadcrumbs (I prefer Italian)
1 jar diced pimentos drained
2 bunches of fresh chives or green onions finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
In a large dutch oven, cast iron skillet or deep pan melt butter over medium/high heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium low add flour, Worcestershire, and hot sauce whisking constantly until you have a rue formed.
Once rue is formed increase the heat to medium/high and gradually whisk in the milk, bringing it to a low boil and continue to whisk and cook for 5 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low and add in cheese, lemon, pimentos, salt and pepper. Continue whisking until it’s a cheese sauce consistency. Once it’s at the desired consistency cover and turn off the heat.
In a small bowl melt 1 tablespoon butter in the microwave and mix in panko breadcrumbs.
Add cooked pasta to a large baker of your choice and fold in cheese sauce. Top evenly with panko breadcrumbs. Cover with tin foil.
Bake in the oven covered for 15-20 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and uncover the dish. Broil until breadcrumbs form a crust and turn golden brown.
Remove from oven, top with chives and enjoy.