Cool Ranch Mac and Cheese

I get the best emails.

Dan,
Made the everything bagel mac and cheese for a breakfast tailgate. It was fantastic and really held true to the bagel flavor profiles. We did not have a food processor so had to crumble extra toasted bagel by hand for breadcrumbs, the larger pieces added a nice texture.

REQUEST - While eating our bagel mac, a friend had the brilliant idea of Dorito mac, using Doritos as breadcrumbs on top and a blend of cheeses including feta for its similar salty, tangy cheesiness. We have some ideas, but I think you could MASTER this for us with your genius. Are you up for the challenge?

Well, are you?

Best,
Kate
Editor, What's Cookin'

Yes Kate, I am.
Here Angela is getting her aggressions out on a bag of chips. The secret to making this sauce taste like cool ranch is using buttermilk instead of milk! Chives and cilantro complete the flavor profile. Some chips on top to make it awesome. After it's all browned up, it's near impossible to not eat it instantly. We used radiator pasta for this and it was a big hit! The sauce clung to the pasta perfectly to make each bite a cool ranch cheese explosion. We used ground beef in this version because that's what people were in the mood for that night, but I suspect that bacon would be even better.

Cool Ranch Mac and Cheese

  • 1/2 Pound Mild Cheddar
  • 1 Pound Colby
  • 1 Pound Pasta
  • 3/4 Pound Beef or Bacon
  • 1 Quart Buttermilk
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Chive
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
  • 2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 Head Cauliflower

Instructions

  1. Grate the cheeses, dice the onion, mince the garlic, break up the head of cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Bring the pasta water to a boil. Cook the meat in a pot to brown and remove from the pot. Remove most of the fat from the pot but leave some to cook the onion in. Cook the onion for about 7 minutes until just about to brown. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add the butter, and shortly after, the flour. Mix well to prevent burning or clumping. Cook about 3 minutes while stirring. Whisk in the buttermilk and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the cheese, stirring until melted. Meanwhile, drop in your pasta to the boiling water. After a few minutes, toss the cauliflower in there too to get it cooking. Strain when the pasta is still a little undercooked. In a large bowl, or even just the pan you are going to bake it in, mix together the pasta, cauliflower, meat, sauce, paprika, chive, and cilantro. Stir well. Top with cool ranch dorito crumbles and toss in a hot oven. I baked it at 500 for 8-10 minutes and it was perfect.