Repeat Mac-n-Cheese Bowl winner shares recipe

Stephen Piorkowski of Delmar, who won the amateur competition during the inaugural Hopping Mac-n-Cheese Bowl in 2010 and again in 2017, took the top prize in this year’s event, held Saturday, March 26 as a street festival in Cohoes.

A crowd estimated at 4,000 sampled mac-n-cheese from about 30 professional providers, with Druthers Brewing winning first place in people’s-choice voting and from judges. The judging panel, comprised of representatives of Mac-n-Cheese Bowl sponsors, also tasted dishes from eight home cooks. Piorkowski, who turned 70 the day before the event, won narrowly over Chloe Sink of Albany, a 13-year-old who was the top kid cook at the 2019 event and chose to return in the adult category this year because there were no others youth competitors.

Piorkowski’s recipe is below.

The Mac-n-Cheese Bowl, suggested by a reader of the Table Hopping blog, is a fundraiser for its organizer, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Last weekend’s event raised about $70,000, up from an average of $45,000 annually in prior years, bringing the total to about $500,000 since 2010.

Stephen Piorkowski’s Five Cheese Mac-n-Cheese
Serves 6 to 8

1½ pounds macaroni, Cellentani brand preferred, or short pasta of choice

For the sauce:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ medium onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 bay leaves
5 cups warm milk, divided use
1 cup warm heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cups packed shredded Cabot Hunter’s extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
2 cups of packed shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
¾ cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

For the topping:
3 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons each: Cabot Hunter’s cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano
1½ cups panko breadcrumbs

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter has 13-by-9-inch casserole dish.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Blend in flour, and add onion and bay leaves. Cook, stir, for 30 seconds. Pour in 1 cup of milk, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and is very thick. Pour in the rest of milk and cream in a steady stream, whisking constantly until sauce comes to a full boil and is smooth. Whisk-in-mustard.
  • Reduce heat to low, add all cheese, and stir until melted. Remove bay leaves. Season with salt and a dash of cayenne pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni for 8 minutes until al dente. Drain well.
  • Combine all topping ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.
  • Spoon one layer of macaroni into the prepared casserole dish, then generously spoon over half the sauce. Repeat with another layer each of pasta and sauce. Top with the panko mixture.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and the top is lightly browned.

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