Upgrade your dinner with rich Wisconsin cheese

Upgrade your dinner with rich Wisconsin cheese

WAUSAU, Wis., (WSAW)– Macaroni and cheese is one of America’s favorite comfort foods and we just can’t get enough!

It also presents the perfect opportunity to showcase your favorite Wisconsin cheese. Whether you crave flavors from Italian, Southwestern, Mexican or all-American dishes, let your favorite Wisconsin cheese define your dish. The recipes showcased this month vary in style so there is something for the kids to love, as well as sophisticated entrees and appetizers for your next party or gathering.

Winters in Wisconsin call for a great warm, easy to make go-to comfort food. To help with a savory reccomendation, Beth Schaefer with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board joined the Sunrise 7 team.

For decades, macaroni and cheese has made the top ten comfort foods list and is a top ten favorite choice for kids. The most popular cheese used in macaroni and cheese is cheddar, but behind cheddar, the most popular recipes include alpine style, gouda, havarti, and parmesan.

“We love macaroni and cheese so much we’ve designated a day in its honor…“National Macaroni and Cheese Day” is celebrated on July 14 in the United States…but since summers are warm, we can celebrate now,” explained Schaefer.

Another reason to celebrate Wisconsin cheese… Looking for the perfect indulgence for your Mardi Gras party? Not sure what to make your Valentine to sweep him/her off his/her feet? Look no further!

Upgrade your traditional Chicken Marsala with a rich macaroni and cheese prepared with Springside Cheddar and BelGioioso Fontina cheeses. Side this hearty dish with simple mixed greens and your favorite Chardonnay.

Chicken Marsala Mac and Cheese

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 package (16 ounces) uncooked penne pasta
3 bacon strips, chopped
1 package (8 ounces) sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup Marsala wine
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed and divided
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups milk
6 ounces BelGioioso Fontina cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces Springside Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Minced fresh parsley
1 Season chicken strips with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge chicken strips in 1 cup flour. Brown chicken strips in oil in a large skillet until meat is no longer pink and golden brown on sides. Remove from skillet. Keep warm.
2 Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Set aside.
3 Meanwhile, wipe skillet clean. Cook bacon in the same skillet until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel to drain; reserve drippings. Add mushrooms to drippings; sauté until tender. Stir in Marsala wine; cook and stir to loosen browned bits from pan. Reduce heat. Add garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in 4 tablespoons butter, lemon juice and tomato paste. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat; cook and stir until mixture is slightly thickened. Stir in chicken and bacon; heat through. Remove from the heat. Keep warm.
4 Melt remaining butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Whisk in remaining flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat to low; gradually stir in fontina and cheddar until melted. Add reserved pasta; cook and stir until heated through. Remove from the heat.
5 Serve pasta topped with chicken mixture. Garnish with parsley.

Any brand of Wisconsin fontina or cheddar cheese can be used.
BelGioioso Fontina is an easy melting cheese with a silky texture; it’s handmade by Master Cheesemakers from fresh milk gathered daily from local farmers.