Miso has the power to add umami to all kinds of dishes, and mac and cheese is no exception. Chef Chris Rogienski of Charlotte, North Carolina’s Supperland—one of our 10 Best New Restaurants of 2022—notes that the state is also home to the largest organic miso company in the world (American Miso Company). That connection sparked a desire to do a spin on traditional mac and cheese, using miso to boost the cheesy intensity of the dish.
At the restaurant, Rogienski serves miso cream on top of the mac and cheese, but here we have simplified his approach to only include miso in the cheese sauce itself. We are big fans of his stovetop approach to the iconic dish, which maximizes sauciness, and includes other flavor enhancers like garlic powder and a touch of red pepper flakes. It embodies the blending of traditional and modern approaches that makes this and every other dish at Supperland so compelling.
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Cook 12 oz. conchigliette (small shells) in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid (do not rinse pasta). Spread pasta out on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
Whisk 3 cups whole milk, 2 Tbsp. white miso, 1 tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes in a small saucepan to combine, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, melt 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Sprinkle ½ cup (63 g) all-purpose flour over and cook, whisking constantly, until combined and mixture is foaming but still very pale, about 4 minutes.
Whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming, very gradually pour in 1¼ cups hot milk mixture, then cook, still whisking constantly, until smooth. Add remaining milk mixture and whisk again until smooth. Add 8 oz. sharp yellow cheddar, coarsely grated, and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, whisking, until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth once more. Add reserved pasta and stir, adding more pasta cooking liquid to loosen sauce if needed, until pasta is well coated.
Transfer macaroni and cheese to a large shallow bowl or dish and sprinkle with more crushed red pepper flakes.
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I can’t get enough miso so I was excited about this recipe. Unfortunately, I found the garlic powder overpowering and everything else underwhelming. Agree with other comments saying that it’s surprisingly bland and heavy. I made it for a thanksgiving dinner so hopefully it’ll balance out with some lighter, more acidic sides.
I made this tonight and it might be the best mac & cheese I've ever made. The only change I would suggest is to increase the pasta to 16 oz, since this recipe makes a LOT of sauce. I also used a "mac & cheese" blend of shredded cheese (cheddar, American, + swiss) from my grocery store. I haven't used shells before for the pasta, but they really work well here. Really great flavor and texture-- this will be my go-to mac & cheese from now on. I served it with a salad dressed with lemon to cut the richness of the mac & cheese.
Cape Cod, MA
This was very good. It makes a very saucy mac if that's your jam, and it's very rich and heavy. It's a dead-of-winter recipe for sure. You are going to want some kind of deep green veg to go with. One of my favorite WFH weekly meal preps is a ton of baked potatoes (regular or sweet) with a cheese sauce and broc + chickpeas and this miso cheese sauce will be how I do that moving forward.
Delicious! I added a little more miso while cooking because I just adore that flavor, which paid off. The sauce:pasta ratio was perfect for us - I only added a few splashes of the pasta cooking water, so the final dish was appropriately gooey and wonderful. If you need a little something to cut the richness, a glass of wine does the trick 😉.
Gig Harbor, WA
Very good. The reheated left-overs were better as the sauce was no longer runny. I added 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce and 1 tspn dry mustard, which punched it up even more.
Very rich. Not sure this is something that should be eaten just casually for dinner.
Fabulous flavour…..but like Betsy from Oakland, CA, the ratio of sauce to pasta is off - 1/3rd less sauce?
Denmark, Western Australia
This was good, not great. Was very creamy and rich and a bit flat - so it definitely needed more red pepper flakes for kick and I also added a good splash of rice vinegar at the end, to help cut through the richness.
I just made this and it is fabulous! I might make my mac and cheese this way from now on. HOWEVER, the sauce to macaroni ratio is waaaay off. I had enough sauce for almost twice as much pasta. I'll chicken scratch that in the margin. I'd say the quantity should be closer to 16-18 oz. of dry pasta.
I just made this for lunch, and it's awesome. The wife and I each had a one cup portion, and some bag salad on the side. That left 5 cups for future meals. Excellent, full stop.