Avonlea Mac & Cheese

Recipe courtesy of cheesemaker Armand Bernard

Armand Bernard is a first generation cheese maker. He grew up working on his family dairy farm near Tignish, PEI and began his career at the Cows Creamery in 1995.

Armand began learning about cheesemaking in 2005, when he visited award-winning cheesemakers in England and throughout North America. In 2006, he had a hand in creating the first batch of Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. Over the past nine years, he has been the cheesemaker for the award-winning Cows Creamery Extra Old Cheddar (World Champion Cheese Contest, 2014 and Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, 2009), Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar (Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, 2015 and American Cheese Society, 2013), and Cows Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar (World Champion Cheese Contest, 2014 and Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, 2013).

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic – smashed and divided
  • 4 tbsp cows creamery sea salted butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 5 ½ cups Shredded Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 slices bacon – cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 large onion – diced
  • 2 garlic cloves – smashed
  • Leaves from ¼ bunch fresh thyme
METHOD
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes—until al dente. Drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with the thyme sprigs and 4 garlic cloves.
  3. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming. Strain the solids out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture.
  5. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth.
  6. Stir in 4 cups of Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture.
  9. Scrape into a 3 quart baking dish and sprinkle the remaining 1 ½ cups of cheese on the top.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  11. While that bakes, heat a sauté pan. Add the bacon, render the fat and cook until crispy.
  12. Add onion, garlic, and thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion.
  13. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. To serve, scatter the bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the bacon mixture on each spoonful.
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