Mac 'n Cheese: Comfort Food With a Dash of Difference

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  • butter
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • fresh chopped rosemary
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • ditalini pasta, cooked 1 minute less than the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • sliced bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces, cooked, strained of fat
  • blanched asparagus, cut into thin rings (1/4 inch)
  • blanched haricots verts, cut into thin rings (1/4 inch)
  • diced onions, sweated in butter for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent
  • grated Manchego cheese
  • grated (yellow) cheddar cheese
  • toasted panko crumbs, (crushed)
  • thinly sliced green onions (1/8 inch)
  • Cheese Béchamel
  • butter
  • flour
  • milk, hot, but not boiling
  • salt, white pepper to taste
  • grated American cheese
  • grated Parmesan

In the depths of winter we yearn for a few rays of sunshine.

If not available during the colder, darker days, a sunny, hearty, warming mac and cheese—everybody’s favorite comfort food—will certainly help bolster moods.

Michael Schlow, executive chef and owner of Radius in Boston, prepares a Super Mac and Cheese with Smoked Bacon, Veggies, and Crunchy Bread Crumbs, which is cooked on the stovetop rather than in the oven.

Schlow will be introducing this dish to his new restaurant, Happy’s Bar and Kitchen, opening in Boston In April.

“This dish is very fast and very easy. I wanted to take the crispy delicious topping but put it on the side so people can add it themselves,” he says.

“The vegetables are added for texture but mac and cheese can get a little redundant so I thought the addition of bacon and vegetables makes it a little different and improves on the original. Bacon is my favorite vegetable.”

Manchego cheese is a nice addition, too, he adds. “It has a little saltiness, it melts nicely into the dish and it’s not too heavy.”

This dish can be a side, or an entrée with a salad and vegetable.



  1. Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Add flour and stir over moderate heat for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Slowly whisk in milk and continue to stir until it starts to thicken and simmer.
  4. Add salt, white pepper and both cheeses until they melt and the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.

Mac 'n cheese

  1. Combine cooked asparagus, haricots verts, and onions.
  2. In a large soup pot, melt butter and olive oil over high heat add rosemary, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Add cooked pasta and béchamel and allow to melt, stirring with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add bacon, and vegetables and cook for 30-60 seconds.
  5. Add cheeses, mix, allow to melt.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning. If it’s too thick, add a little milk or more béchamel.
  7. Pour into rustic serving vessel. Serve toasted breadcrumbs and green onions on the side, and serve.

Chef Michael Schlow owns Boston restaurants Radius, Via Matta, Alta Strada, and Tico, in Boston, and plans to open Happy’s Bar and Kitchen in April. He is known for his use of low temperature cooking, which results in succulent, tender dishes. He can be seen on various network and cable programs including The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, The Early Show and Food Network. Most recently, he competed on the special Top Chef Masters series on Bravo.