Merkts cold-pack cheese, found in the refrigerated section of most well-stocked grocery stores, really makes this mac and cheese. You can use any pub-style, spreadable cheese in its place. If you can't find that, using Velveeta in equal measure works fine.
Go ahead and add whatever else you'd like: tavern-style ham, bacon, nubs of pancetta, or chopped vegetables of your choosing. This is a highly customizable dish, one that's great for using up contents of your refrigerator.
In the event you can't get your hands on Peppadew peppers (Trader Joe's stocks them), roasted red peppers are an acceptable, if less interesting, substitute.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/3 cup minced Peppadew or roasted red peppers
- 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 14-ounces Merkts sharp cheddar cold-pack cheese spread
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup milk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil over medium heat in a medium stockpot. When it’s shimmering, add garlic and sauté until tender, stirring often so it doesn’t burn, 3 to 4 minutes total.
Add peppers, cooked macaroni and butter and let butter melt. Add Merkts, stirring until it melts and forms a loose, cheesy sauce. Add shredded cheddar and milk and continue stirring until it comes together as an appropriately thick, cheesy dish. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Stir to combine and serve immediately.