Marcus Samuelsson's penchant for Southern American-African-Swedish fusion cuisine always makes him an interesting chef to watch. His recipe for Mac and Greens, adapted in Ellen Brown's Mac & Cheese, fits right into his oeuvre. The recipe title is apt, as his mac contains just as much greenery as pasta. Braised collards and bok choy pair perfectly with the gooey cheddar-Gruyère-Parmesan mix, and the hints of soy and coconut lend glutamate-rich depth. But don't be fooled, this is no health food--there's bacon, heavy cream, and plenty of cheese in each and every nook and cranny.
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This soufflé-like casserole is adapted from Sweet Potatoes Restaurant in Winston-Salem, and it offers much more than just macaroni, cheese, and eggs. The custard base contains sour cream in addition to heavy cream for added tang and texture; the pasta is mixed with not just mild yellow cheddar, but also blue cheese and Parmesan. Tiny morsels of country ham aren't really necessary, but can you really say no to a little extra pork?
Before picking up Ellen Brown's Mac & Cheese, I assumed all fried macaroni and cheese must be breaded and deep-fried a la Paula Deen. But the Skillet-Fried Cheddar Mac and Cheese, adapted from Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, is a far more delicate affair. The sauce is made exclusively with raw-milk cheddar, and the final fry is in a tablespoon, rather than a couple quarts, of oil. This step exists for the sole purpose of creating large crispy pieces of cheese akin to Italian frico.