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The ladies of Landaff Creamery used their own dairy for their winning recipe. Courtesy photo.




 Macaroni and Cheese Bake Off

When: Saturday, Jan. 18, from 2 to 5 p.m.
Where: Grappone Conference Center
Cost: $10 for adults, $3 for kids ages 6 to 12 (kids ages 5 and under receive free admission)
Visit: nhdairypromo.org/events




Creamy, cheesy goodness
Mac and Cheese Bake Off returns for fourth year

01/16/14



 At the New Hampshire Macaroni and Cheese Bake Off, you might be surprised by the wild culinary ideas, like the chocolate pudding macaroni and cheese with mascarpone cheese that the Belmont Fire Department made last year. Over the years there’s also been chicken and ranch, buffalo chicken, chicken pot pie and pulled pork mac and cheese, plus mac and cheese dishes with seafood, bacon and squash.

“Now it’s a set-in-stone New Hampshire tradition,” New Hampshire Dairy Promotion Director Amy Hall said. “People take their mac and cheese pretty seriously.”
This is the fourth year for New Hampshire Dairy Promotion’s Macaroni and Cheese Bake Off.
“Each year presents different challenges,” she said. “This year the challenge seems to be mostly the amount of cheese from Cabot people are requesting. My concern is they’re not asking for enough.”
She’s taken the time to call individual contestants to make sure they have ordered enough cheese. It’s an opportunity she enjoys, because she can develop a relationship with the bakers prior to the event.
“Everybody has a story,” she said. “There’s always the ‘This is Grandma’s recipe and I just eyeball it, and she never allowed us to have a recipe.’”
Bake-off categories include restaurant chef contestants, traditional macaroni and cheese recipes, creative and exotic macaroni and cheese recipes, a New Hampshire Made category and, of course, People’s Choice.
There are three judges in each category. For the most part, Hall said judges are looking for flavor, creamy texture and “that down-home sense of comfort,” she said.
“Of course every single one of them has a different palate,” Hall said.
Judges have told Hall that the traditional category is one of the more difficult to judge since the recipes are so similar. The roux is the defining quality in the traditional category.
“What judges are honing in on are the micro-elements on what makes the dish so good,” she said. 
The Macaroni and Cheese Bake Off isn’t a fundraiser, but rather an event to promote the dairy industry in the Granite State. Hall said that since 1970, the state has lost 700 family-owned dairy farms, and currently there are only 128 family-owned dairy farms left in New Hampshire.
Cotton restaurant owner Jeff Paige judges each year and takes the winning recipe from the New Hampshire Made category to be featured on the menu at Cotton for a month after the competition. So far, Landaff Creamery has been the the reigning champion of the New Hampshire Made category using ingredients made right at the creamery.
“If you’re entering the New Hampshire Made category, you have to use cheese and milk that are 100-percent New Hampshire-made. So Cabot wouldn’t qualify; even though New Hampshire dairy farmers send their milk to Cabot, it’s not 100-percent New Hampshire dairy,” Hall said. “The idea here is just to make that connection between the food and the farm where it comes from.”
 
As seen in the January 16th, 2014 issue of The Hippo
 





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