When Jeanna Ray asked for the recipe for Mac-n-Cheese from Jack Beagle’s in NoDa, I didn’t know what to expect. I planned a visit to do my research and, lo and behold, there were no less than five options to choose from: a buttery and cheesy Classic Mac, a jalapeño and tomatillo Mexi-Mac, a signature Buffalo-style version called Jack-Mac, Chili-Mac AND Blue-Black Mac.
What is Blue-Black Mac? It was Ray’s request and it’s also general manager Mike McGuire’s favorite. As he said, “The salty smoked bacon paired with tangy blue cheese and peppercorn is almost flavor overload!”
I couldn’t agree more.
It was an easy recipe to prepare, a classic bechamel with a twist. Just keep whisking, whisking, whisking to create a smooth, creamy sauce. If you have time, freshly grate the cheeses instead of buying them pre-shredded. The cheese will melt easier and won’t be covered in anti-caking powder.
With the chilly weather we’ve been having, the request for this fabulous comfort food couldn’t have come at a better time.
Are you looking for a recipe from a Charlotte-area restaurant? Send your request to Jennifer Lover, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram (@jenniferlover). Please include your name, why you like the recipe, the area where you live and the restaurant’s location. Lover is a creative director, stylist and cook who lives in Charlotte.
3213 N. Davidson St., Charlotte, 704-334-5140.
Jack Beagle’s Blue-Black Mac
4 slices applewood-smoked bacon
2 cups elbow macaroni (they use an imported Italian brand)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground pepper
6 ounces Italian cheese blend (mozzarella/provolone/ Parmesan), grated
3 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees.
COOK bacon in a skillet until slightly crispy. Drain on paper towels and chop into nickel-sized pieces.
BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add macaroni and cook until al dente, about 7-8 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water to halt cooking. Set aside.
MELT the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk in flour until smooth. Lower heat to medium and keep whisking until roux is just beginning to turn golden brown. Slowly whisk in milk (room temperature is best). Continue to cook, whisking, until smooth and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
REMOVE from heat and stir in salt and pepper, half of the Italian cheese blend, the cheddar and blue cheese. Stir in the pasta and bacon.
DIVIDE pasta mixture into two individual-size gratin dishes or ramekins. Top with the remaining Italian cheese blend.
BAKE at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until bubbling. Remove from oven and grind fresh black pepper over each dish. Cool a little before serving.
Yield: 2 large servings.