After our first experience at Poogan’s Porch last November, my friends and I ALWAYS make a stop on every business trip to Charleston. Someone always gets the mac and cheese for the table, and we always stare at that last bite wanting it sooooo, sooooooo bad, but refraining because we know everyone else is thinking the exact same thing. I’m surprised any of us ever has room for our entrees! Seriously, that mac and cheese is exactly why we have never, ever have room for dessert at Poogan’s. One day!
Ok, so this is not an exact replica of Poogan’s Porch to die for mac and cheese, but it was definitely inspired by that delectable dish and it’s pretty yummy. Like the restaurant’s recipe (which you can find here), this one follows the stove top cooking, rather than a casserole like bake. You know, the crunchy topping for the baked type never appealed to me and baked mac and cheese always seems to come out dry. This recipe is perfect for those who, like me, crave a silky, creamy mac and cheese.
Poogan’s Porch Mac and Cheese – Ruth’s Way
- 1 1/2 cups macaroni or other small pasta, cooked al dente
- 4-5 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 cup whole milk, heated to about 120-140F (no hotter than the temp of the milk for your latte)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2-3/4 cup smoked Gouda
- 1/4 cup country ham, chopped
- 1/3 cup shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter over medium, medium-low heat in a saucepan
- Sprinkle in flour, whisking to incorporate into the butter until smooth. Cook about 5 minutes.
- While flour mixture is cooking, combine the milk and cream. When flour mixture is ready, turn the heat to medium and start ladling in the milk and cream mixture whisking the entire time to maintain a smooth texture.
- The minute the roux starts to simmer, lower heat to and cook 7-10 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil or it will cause the cream to curdle. Set aside.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the country ham over medium low until fat is released (aka render). (If you end up with a leaner slice, go ahead and use a tbsp or two of olive oil to help it along).
- Add shallots, increase heat to medium, and cook until translucent. Lower heat back to medium-low.
- Stir in milk and cream mixture until reduced by about a half.
- Whisk in smoke Gouda 1-2 tbsp at a time.
- Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook about 2-3 more minutes then add in the cooked macaroni pasta.
- Remove from heat and mix with a spoon until all the pasta is coated in the cheese mixture.
- Garnish with fresh herbs, like chopped parsley, chives, or green onions and serve.