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After making a big batch of braised short ribs, followed by short rib ragu over polenta and short rib pot pie, a mac ‘n cheese dish sounded like a good idea. Béchamel sauce makes cheesy pasta dishes and grilled cheese sandwiches taste better, and this indeed was the case here.

You can make this in a casserole dish, or in individual ramekins, but I like using muffin pans. It’s a simple way to help with portion control AND freezing. When the mac ‘n cheese has cooled, remove them from the muffin pan and place in freezer bags. Let thaw in the refrig, cover with foil and reheat at 250˚ with a little milk drizzled on top, and more cheese if you like.

What else can you do with leftover mac ‘n cheese? Grilled mac ‘n cheese sandwiches. Yes, I went there.

Makes 24 “cupcakes”. 12-24 servings, depending on what you are serving it with, or how hungry your eaters are!

Short Rib Mac ‘n Cheese

short rib mac 'n cheeseWhat you need:

  • 12 oz farfalle pasta
  • 1/2 bunch kale, stems and center ribs removed, chopped
  • 2 c grated carrot (about 8 small)
  • 1 lg onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 tbs butter, divided
  • 1 tbs Devo Olive Oil Black Truffle Oil (or regular EVOO)
  • 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 1/2 c cream (if desired, use 3 c milk)
  • 2 c shredded, braised short rib
  • 2 c breadcrumbs
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 c grated smoked baby Swiss cheese, divided
  • 2 c grated rosemary jack cheese, divided

What you do:

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Spray 12-cup muffin tin (or ramekins) with EVOO.
  • Cook pasta in boiling salted water until tender but firm to bite.
  • Drain pasta and transfer to large bowl.
  • Melt 2 tbs butter and oil in sauté pan.
  • Add garlic, onion, kale and carrots.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Sauté until wilted, about 5 min.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Melt 4 tbs butter in large saucepan over med heat.
  • Add flour and stir until mixture turns golden brown, about 4 min.
  • Add nutmeg and cayenne.
  • Gradually whisk in milk and cream (if desired, use 3 c milk)
  • Simmer until thickened and smooth, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
  • Add 1 1/2 c Swiss and 1 1/2 c jack cheese.
  • Stir until melted and smooth.
  • Add sautéed vegetables and mix well.
  • Add short ribs mixture and mix well.
  • Add pasta and mix well.
  • Divide mixture among muffin cups (or ramekins).
  • Melt 2 tbs butter in sauté pan over med-high heat.
  • Add breadcrumbs and mix well.
  • Stir until golden, about 2 min.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Mix remaining cheese in sm bowl and sprinkle cheese and breadcrumbs over muffin wells (or ramekins).
  • If using ramekins, place on rimmed baking sheet.
  • Bake until pasta begins to bubble and top turns golden, about 20 min.