On the spectrum of comfort food, mac and cheese might just be the holy grail. Think about it. With cozy, carby pasta and at least one or two cheddars in the mix, mac and cheese is like a blanket in food form. As it wraps you in its warmth, it helps you release the tensions of the day and maybe, just maybe, zone out the worries of the world for a while.
Of course, not every mac and cheese is created equal. As anyone who’s tasted both the home-cooked stuff and the blue-box stuff can attest, some noodles are just better than others. Case in point: these Hudson Valley versions. Coming straight to you from the kitchens of local chefs, they’re masterpieces of cheddar, mozzarella, and butternut squash (yes, really!) that hit the spot like nothing else. So drop the Kraft mix, pick up a wooden spoon, and get your MasterChef on, Hudson Valley. It’s time to make the mac.
Created by Handsome Devil BBQ extraordinaire Ed Randolph, this mouthwatering recipe comes straight from the pages of Smoked, his cookbook. It features two type of cheeses and feels extra-rich with a hefty scoop of sour cream. Top it with freshly made breadcrumbs for a dinnertime centerpiece that stands just as wonderfully on its own as it does partnered with a platter of finger-licking ribs.
Trust Angry Orchard to find a way (and a delicious one at that) to incorporate its signature hard cider into America’s beloved comfort food. With a full cup of its Unfiltered cider drizzled alongside shredded cheese and a spoonful of Dijon, it’s just the stuff for anyone who thinks cider is the only acceptable tipple of choice during quarantine.
Just when you thought you tried every mac-tastic twist in the book, Joey Berben of Berben & Wolff’s in Albany and Troy serves up a new one. This rendition features nary a speck of cheddar – or dairy, for that matter – since it’s 100-percent vegan. How does it taste so, well, cheesy? That would be thanks to the winning combination of butternut squash and nutritional yeast. While the ingredient list is slightly longer than those of most mac recipes, it’s well worth the effort to track everything down. You’ll be saying “I can’t believe it’s vegan” with every bite.
While the opening of Mix N Mac’s second location in Wappingers Falls is still in the works, its Marley Mac recipe is more than cheesy enough to hold us all over in the meantime. The ingredient list is akin to a choose-your-own-adventure novel with options to customize herbs and cheeses according to personal preference. As for the spices, they lean on the comforting side with garlic and onion powders taking center stage. P.S. Don’t skip the pinch of nutmeg. It’s that special something that takes the dish from pretty good to “mac it again!”
If quarantine mode has you leaning into all those warming flavors of fall and winter in the Hudson Valley, this pumpkin-packed version is the one for you. Crafted by Josh Kroner, the chef and owner of Terrapin in Rhinebeck, the recipe sneaks in a half cup of pumpkin puree alongside three hefty cups of grated cheddar. That means it’s kind of healthy, right?
Part dinner recipe, part family craft, these mac and cheese cupcakes are the perfect way to keep the kids occupied and engaged during suppertime. Prep the mac in advance, then leave a few minutes in the evening for baking and setting up the toppings bar. Little ones and adults alike will love customizing their cupcakes with fixings as standard as bacon and scallions or as zesty as hot sauce and truffle oil.