Lately, I have been fielding a number of requests for a true cheddar cheese as one of our dairy selections at The Filling Station. With a little digging around I stumbled across an absolute gem imported by Murray’s Cheeses in New York City.
It’s called Tickler cheddar and it comes from southeastern England’s Taw Valley. Devon cows provide the milk for this awesome 18-month aged beauty. Upon unwrapping, I could immediately smell the grass from the cows’ diet. Very pale beige in color, Tickler is semi-sharp, sweet, nutty, grassy and lightly salty. In fact, the salt crystals are regrouping into tiny, crunchy clusters as the cheese ages longer.
Aside from normal snack-time enjoyment, I wondered what this cheese might work well with. Now that it’s getting nice and cool outside again, it makes perfect sense to spin out a batch of ultra-comforting mac and cheese. Grab a couple of bottles of something nice and hoppy to go with it like Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo IPA. This amber colored double IPA is loaded with big floral and pine hops on the nose and tangy citrus all across the palate. Delicious and thoroughly drinkable on its own, the bright bitterness works wonders with Tickler’s sharp flavors.
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 2 cups milk
• 1 stick unsalted cooking butter cut into 1-inch sections
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• Kosher salt to taste – approximately 2 tbsp plus additional for pasta
• 1 box elbow macaroni
• 1 tsp dried mustard
• Cracked black pepper to taste
• 10 ounces Tickler cheddar (available at, hey, would you look at that! Hopjacks Filling Station!)
• Panko bread crumbs to top
In one saucepot, gently heat the cream and milk to a low simmer. Do not boil. Now grab your favorite heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan. Melt all that butter. Set temperature to medium and begin to whisk in the flour. Kinda like making a roux but not nearly as dark; about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in that warm milk & cream. Return to heat and simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. Stir in your seasonings. Taste till you like it. Congratulations. You just made a béchamel. Now take that cheese, shred it and add to the sauce. Feel free to add ham, green onion, mushroom or anything else you dig.
Boil water, add pasta, salt the pot, cook until just slightly under done. Drain (duh). Add pasta to the saucepot and mix it all even. Set oven to 400F. Fill casserole dish with mix. Top with Panko. Bake for 25-35 minutes until it’s all bubbly and crumbs are nice and browned. Crack open a Torpedo. Enjoy.