How do you make a cheese sauce? Asadero Mexican Mac n Cheese

Make a cheese sauce from scratch? Without a doubt,  if you say macaroni and cheese, I immediately think of the popping open the blue box and smacking the little silver packet against the kitchen counter to pack together the orange “cheese” powder.  I admit it, I grew up eating box macaroni and cheese and loved it (don’t judge me, you clearly have never met my mother).  As a teenager,  who actually thinks-  how do you make a cheese sauce?  You don’t read labels or question the contents, you just eat it.   In high school there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t come home, throw my books down,  and immediately go for the box – 4 Tablespoons of butter, splash of milk, and the cheese powder “stuff.”  What’s actually in that “moon dust” anyway?  Do you think it’s a distant relative of Hot Cheetos or maybe a long lost cousin of ball park nacho cheese?  Okay, so I don’t eat instant cheese sauce out of a box anymore,  but it doesn’t change the fact that my girlish teenage crush on cheese has evolved into an adult love affair.   I’ve traded in my silver packet of moon dust cheese for the real stuff – real dairy, real butter, and real cheese.  I was thrilled when I received the invitation from Wisconsin cheese to use their lovely whole milk cheese in a Satisfied recipe. 

So how do you actually make a cheese sauce from scratch?  There are actually many ways to make a cheese sauce.  As a French trained chef,  the first that comes to my mind is Mornay Sauce (butter+flour+milk+cheese) … but Mac and Mornay? Just doesn’t sound quite right.  And whenever I’ve made a Mornay Sauce with pasta, it tastes like just that, sauce “with” pasta. The sauce is delicious on it’s own but never completely marries itself with the noodles, becoming one … like a married couple with separate bank accounts.  You see, the best thing about box macaroni and cheese is the slippery noodles that are completely one with sauce.  They have fallen in love and you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins – the flavor is inseparable.  

To create a velvety smooth sauce, almost custard like in texture, I discarded the way of Bechamel (butter+flour+milk) and chose eggs. This egg based cheese sauce is made in a similar way as Pasta Carbonara, but not Italian at all.  I started this recipe idea with Wisconsin Asadero cheese, from there I  ran south of the border with a Mexican theme:  chilies, cumin, oregano, and Salsa Verde. 

First, I boiled the noodles in salted water until just under aldente.  While those were cooking I combined the eggs with the half and half, chilies, Salsa Verde, and Mexican seasonings.  Once the pasta came out of the water I returned it to the warm pot with butter over low heat ( you don’t want scrambled eggs), and added in the egg mixture and cheese. I continued stirring slowly until the cheese melted and the eggs thickened the liquid to a velvety, creamy, and spicy cheese sauce.  Just five more minutes on the stove top and then into an oven proof dish.  I finished the macaroni with a little more Wisconsin cheese on top and a quick stop under the broiler for a bubbly melted cheese finish.  
Asadero Mexican Mac n Salsa Verde Cheese Sauce
Serves 6
8 oz of large elbow macaroni
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
½ cup (4oz) of half and half
1 cup Salsa Verde (8 oz) – store bought

1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano – lightly ground in the palm of your hand
4 oz can of roasted green chilies (hot or mild)

1 cup (about 6 oz) Wisconsin Asadero Cheese – grated
1/2 cup (about 3oz) Wisconsin Jack – grated
1/2 cup (about 3 oz) Wisconsin Cheddar- grated
2 oz Wisconsin Cheddar -grated
Fresh Salsa

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 Tablespoon of kosher salt
In a medium bowl combine eggs, half and half, salsa, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and green chilies – mix well
Add macaroni to boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes – just under aldente – drain
Place macaroni back into hot pot over low heat
Add in half of the egg mixture and half of the cheese and slowly stir until cheese begins to melt- about 1-2 minutes.
Add in the rest of the egg mixture and cheese and gently continue to stir over low heat for about 5 minutes- until velvety and creamy
Turn off the heat and allow the macaroni to sit for approximately 3-4 minutes – this will help the sauce to slightly thicken.
Place into an oven proof dish and top with remaining 2 oz of cheese and place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes to melt the cheese.
Serve warm – garnish with shredded cheese and fresh salsa


9 comments… add one
  • Feast on the Cheap March 1, 2011, 8:38 pm

    Oh my goodness, this was tailor-made for my husband. Looks PHENOMENAL Louise!

  • Laurel {Make and Takes} March 2, 2011, 2:02 am

    Yum!! We're featuring side dishes this week over at the M&T Spotlight and I'd love for you to submit this:

  • Angie's Recipes March 2, 2011, 6:05 am

    omg..this looks super sexy and satisfying!

  • marla March 2, 2011, 1:00 pm

    Beautiful mac and cheese Louise! I would love this after a big day skiing 🙂

  • Lazaro Cooks! March 2, 2011, 6:17 pm

    Love the concept of this dish and the flavor profile. Presentation is lovely as well.


  • Quyen - Kitchen Runway March 15, 2011, 7:07 am

    Louise…these look wonderful! How can anyone resist mac & cheese! I love the salsa on top –just the perfect pop of color and brightness!

  • Kevin June 9, 2011, 7:20 pm

    Hey Louise,

    Love your blog! We were wondering if we can feature it on our site. We will be launching a new network for food bloggers, foodies and amateur chefs and would love to have you be part of it. You can visit us at


  • Elizabeth Berry November 12, 2013, 1:48 pm

    This looks great! I am going to try my own version with a french herb cheddar that I bought from a local farmer’s market. Check out my site for beauty videos and outfits of the day!

    • Chef Louise Mellor November 14, 2013, 12:18 pm

      Oooh that sounds great!~

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