Savory Sounds: Motor City Mac n’ Cheese

Mac & Cheese is the quintessential American comfort food and deserves to be eaten with some quintessential American tunes. Whether you prefer sharp cheddar, creamy chihuahua, or a cheese substitute, nothing beats some warm, savory deliciousness with a little jazz thrown in.

Mac and Cheese’s history starts before America’s, gaining popularity in Northern Europe. Thomas Jefferson fell in love with pasta when he visited France and brought it back to the States for a government dinner in 1802. Then the Great Depression came along, and Kraft, a Canadian company, made a cheap dinner option for struggling families. Not only was it economically practical, but comforting, too. We’ve come a long way since the 1920s, and ingredients have improved along with the economy. This recipe is food-dye-free and way better than any boxed cheese packets.

Because this dish was designed for those who had fallen on hard times, it seems only appropriate that we pair it with a sound as industrial and ruptured as the crash of 1929. Back in the day, Detroit was an icon for American capitalism and the pinnacle of prosperity; Machines, cigars, and coal were what drove the market—that is, until people decided that biking might be better for the environment. The industrial feel of the city translated in to social clubs spanning the city from east to west and revolutionized the music scene. From high schoolers to nine-to-fivers, dance music was a form of creative release. Before going out dancing, they’d eat something filling to sustain them til the break of dawn. Something with substance, soul, and flavor.

Our Motor City Mac n’ Cheese is spicy, crunchy, and creamy enough to make your taste buds go haywire (in a good way). Reminisce about warehouse parties, the Detroit Music Festival, the preps, and the jits as the gooey gouda coats your palate.

To fill in the silence, put on some music. Suggestion: In the Dark – Soul of Detroit. It’s consistently jazzy and sufficiently down tempo for a relaxing homemade dinner. If you want to switch it up while you bust your kitchen moves, try some sounds from Detroit’s neighbor – Chicago’s own MassTransit. The food’s filling, and the music’s funky enough to get you in the mood for some late-night dancing.

Don’t worry, this soul food is super easy; it only takes 30 minutes to make.


1 lb package short pasta (penne, elbow macaroni, etc)

4  tablespoons  butter

4  tablespoons  all-purpose flour

4  cups  milk

½  teaspoon  salt

½  teaspoon  fresh ground black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

8-oz block sharp white cheddar cheese, grated and divided (about 2 cups)

8-oz block smoked gouda cheese, grated and divided (about 2 cups)



1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, set aside. Preheat oven to 400oF

2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Whisking constantly, cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat to low and stir in salt, black pepper and most of the cheese, reserving about a cup of cheese.

3. Pour the pasta in a lightly greased 8 x 11 x 2 baking dish. Spoon the cheese sauce over the pasta, stirring lightly to even out the sauce in the pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cup of cheese and the paprika.

4. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven, and prepare yourself for some straight-up soul food.

Recipe by Adrianna from the Cozy Kitchen.

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