The Hippo


Jul 24, 2019








Displaying cheesy creations at the Macaroni and Cheese Bake-off. Courtesy photo.

New Hampshire’s Own Macaroni and Cheese Bake Off

When: Saturday, Jan. 16, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Where: Courtyard Marriott/ Grappone Conference Center, 1 Constitution Ave., Concord
Tickets: Cost $16 for adults, free for children 10 and under (all you can eat, with beverages included). Register to compete or purchase tickets by Jan. 14. 

Say cheese
Annual bake off celebrates NH dairy

By Allie Ginwala

 See how your treasured macaroni and cheese recipe holds up or just spend an afternoon indulging in the ultimate winter comfort food during Granite State Dairy Promotion’s sixth annual Macaroni and Cheese Bake Off on Saturday, Jan. 16.

“It actually was the brainchild of one of my dairy producers,” said Amy Hall, director of Granite State Dairy Promotion. “We worked together and hashed it out and came up with macaroni and cheese.”
The idea behind the event is to help consumers “garner a larger appreciation for where their food comes from,” Hall said. 
“We tend to be disconnected with the idea that we can just go to the store and get butter, milk and cheese. … We wanted to use this as a catalyst, as a jumping point, that you can’t have macaroni and cheese if you don’t have your community’s own dairy farmers,” she said.
New Hampshire dairy farmers will play a role in the competition, with the judging panels consisting of a dairy farmer plus a restaurateur, member of the press or radio personality for each of the three categories: traditional, creative/exotic and New Hampshire made. There will also be a separate competition for restaurants.
The criteria to win a best macaroni and cheese title include texture, creaminess and overall flavor, Hall said, though she didn’t set specific guidelines on which to judge. 
“They’re looking for that creamy, cheesy goodness that everyone is after in a mac and cheese,” she said. 
As of the first week of January, 28 bakers had already registered to compete. They’re required to bring two large chafing pans from which to serve two-ounce samples to judges and guests.
“It’s a fun idea to be able to brag to your friends and family that ‘I am the grand champion of macaroni and cheese in New Hampshire,’” Hall said. “[Competition] brings out the people who have always been told at parties, ‘Your mac and cheese is the best I’ve ever had,’” Hall said.
That’s exactly how Kit Dutcher of Loudon got involved with the bake off for the first time this year. 
“All of my kids and my nephews and nieces love my mac and cheese, and I decided I’ll give it a whirl,” she said.
Originally she was going to enter the New Hampshire-made category (which requires that all cheese and milk be from the state’s dairy farmers) but opted for the traditional category so she could use Cabot cheese.
Hall said that the traditional category typically includes classic kinds of macaroni and cheese reminiscent of what your grandmother used to make — simple and delicious with cheese and a crumb topping.
The sauce is the most important part of the process for Dutcher, who uses cornstarch instead of flour for thickening. 
“Flour takes a little bit longer to process for thickening and depending on what kind of flour you get, where it comes from will change the flavor of the cheese,” she said.
Plus, she likes the “shimmery look” cornstarch gives to creamy sauces, noting that presentation is another important part of the process.
Dutcher said she’s open to trying her hand in the creative category in the future, once she sees how things go this year. She has ideas for recipe variations like a macaroni and cheese with ham from the pigs she raises, broccoli and a topping of dried tomatoes and bread crumbs or French’s fried onions.
“I always try to make sure that even though I have [a good recipe] that I try to be a little creative, [to] wake your taste buds up,” she said.
The creative/exotic category is filled with all kinds of flavor creations, Hall said, like lobster, bacon, apple crisp, lamb curry and even a cold blueberry cheesecake macaroni and cheese with mascarpone and cream cheese.
“Sometimes you’ll get a recipe that comes through and [think], ‘Oh no that does not sound good,’” Hall said. “It’s taught me to never judge a recipe by its cover.” 

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