Artisan Mac n’ Cheese Quartet

Make this unreal mac and cheese with local cheese and beer for a truly indulgent comfort dish that tastes even better than it looks


  • oven
  • large baking pan
  • large saucepan
  • pot


  • 1 lb (454 g) pork belly with skin, patted dry
  • 2 cups (500 mL) kosher salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) local craft beer
  • 1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, divided
  • 2 cups (500 mL) sliced oyster mushrooms
  • 1 1/4 cups (300 mL) 35% whipping cream
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) chilli powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme leaves
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) old cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup (250 mL) shredded smoked gouda
  • 1 cup (250 mL) shredded firm cheese
  • 1 cup (250 mL) shredded asiago cheese
  • half of 500 g pkg short, dry pasta (gemelli or similar), cooked


  1. Place pork belly, skin side up, in a baking dish. Refrigerate a minimum of 8 hours (or overnight).
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200° C). Spread salt on top of pork belly in a thick layer. Add beer and soy sauce to the pan, avoiding the salt layer. Roast pork for about 1 hour or until tender and skin has shrunk, Set Aside.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tsp (15 mL) of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté mushrooms until golden and tender.
  4. Remove to plate and set aside. Return pan to medium-low heat and add remaining butter to melt. Add cream, Dijon, chili powder, thyme, and pepper, whisking to combine. Increase heat to medium and bring the cream to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until cream starts to thicken. Stir in half of the cheddar, and all of the gouda, firm and Asiago cheeses as well as the mushrooms, stirring until cheese is smooth.
  6. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat (If you haven’t pre-cooked, add pasta to salted, boiling water and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.)
  7. Remove salt layer from pork and place under broiler for about 5 minutes or until the skin puffs up. (Careful not to burn the skin here, keep a close eye on the pork belly.)
  8. Remove pork belly from dish and slice thinly. Discard salt and liquid mixture.
  9. Scrape pasta and cheese mixture into large baking dish and top with remaining cheddar cheese and pork slices.
  10. Broil for about 3 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.