Across the Table – Where Cheese Comes From

Hungry for Truth, an initiative from South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, has debuted its sixth episode of Across the Table online.

South Dakota Soybean Across the Table Dairy

South Dakota State University (SDSU) is known for its famous ice cream (legend has it they invented cookies & cream), but did you know they make other dairy products right on campus? From grilled cheese to chocolate milk, dairy is a staple for most families and a great source of calcium. To learn more about how this delicious cheese makes it our tables, Hungry for Truth went on location for this episode of Across the Table, where they met with one of the students who keeps the campus cows happy and healthy. Read on for more on dairy, plus a mouthwatering recipe for gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese.

Megan Schaefer is a dairy production major at SDSU who grew up on a dairy farm in central Minnesota. She says the cows on campus eat a diet full of local food. South Dakota soybean farmers grow the soybeans that get processed into meal for a high-quality protein in the cows’ diet, just like many dairy farms across the state.

Along with the other students in the dairy program, Megan takes pride in caring for their dairy cows. “We have a 150-cow dairy farm we get to work on,” she said. “The most important thing to keep animals healthy is to treat them humanely and keep them as comfortable as possible.”

Watch the video to hear more from Megan and read the recipe for delicious gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese below.

Across the Table – Where Cheese Comes From from Hungry for Truth on Vimeo.

Gourmet Mac and Cheese
Prep time: 1 hour
Serves: 12

Ingredients
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 slices hickory-smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4-1/2 cups 2% milk, at room temperature
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups (16 oz.) sharp white cheddar cheese, divided and grated
1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) Gruyere cheese, divided and grated
1 cup (4 oz.) fontina cheese, shredded
1/2 cup (2 oz.) fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions
1. Cook macaroni until pasta is firm, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water; set aside.
2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook bacon just until done, avoiding over-browning; drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
3. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in bread crumbs and cooked bacon pieces; set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish; set aside.
5. In a large saucepan, melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and black pepper until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to bubble and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Whisk in 3 cups white cheddar, 1 cup Gruyere, fontina and Parmesan.
6. Stir together cheese sauce and macaroni; pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere. Top with buttered breadcrumbs and bacon. Bake until well browned on top, about 30 minutes*. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*Slide a baking sheet on the bottom oven rack to catch spills.