New Year's Party Recipe: Mac & Cheese

Rhino Bar & Pumphouse and Modern shared this favorite from their catering & private event menu.

Rhino Bar & Pumphouse on M Street, knows how to deliver crowd-pleasing eats and drinks. For the holidays, they have shared a recipe for a staff and guest favorite: Mac & Cheese.

"This Mac & Cheese recipe has evolved over the years (since 1999), when I first started making it in the Rhino kitchen as a Blue Plate Special.  It has become a fixture on the Catering & Private event menu," said Janine K. Schoonover, CEO of JSW Group, which owns Rhino Bar and Modern.

Schoonover added that the recipe can be tweaked to make Mac & Cheese mini - pizzas and enjoyed as a passed appetizer.  

"Whenever I make it for catered functions, I always have to make extra for the staff to enjoy and a batch to take home for my daughters," added Schoonover.

Macaroni & Cheese

8 servings

This recipe can easily be doubled or quadrupled. (For one request, Schoonover had to multiply the recipe to serve a party of 165 people.)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the center of oven.


1/2 cup - 2/3 cup Panko

1/3 cup Parmesean Romano Cheese (grated)

1/4 cup Mozzerella Cheese shredded or Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded (or both)

Freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 - 2 tsp. Basil & Rosemary or Italian Seasoning (Penzey's Italian Herb Mix is my favorite)

Dots of unsalted butter - take slice of butter and cut into sliver and dot around casserole

1 lb. of pasta, such as penne, macaroni or ziti (penne is more elegant)

6 tbs. unsalted butter

1-2 cloves of minced garlic

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. dry mustard or dijon mustard

6 tbs. all purpose flour

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups heavy cream

1 1/4  cup white wine 

8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese (block cheese)

16 oz. colby cheese (block cheese) 

Ground Kosher or Sea Salt


Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a big pot adding a dash of olive oil.  Once water comes to a rapid boil, add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain pasta in a colander.

Wipe pot to dry and place over medium heat adding the butter.  Once the butter is melted, add the cayenne, garlic, mustard and whisk for 25-30 seconds.  Add flour, whisking constantly for about a minute.  Add heavy cream, white wine and chicken broth; whisking repeatedly until mixture thickens, about 5 - 8 minutes.

Cut cheese into cubes and add to mixture on low heat.  Continue to whisk as mixture becomes bubbling and cheese melts; turn off heat and let the mixture set as cheese continues to melt.  May place back over heat whisking to ensure that mixture is smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  May add some red pepper flakes if you want it more spicy.  

Gently fold drained pasta into sauce.  Spray 9  by 13 - inch casserole dish with olive oil spray or canola oil spray.  Add pasta and cheese sauce mixture to dish.

Sprinkle topping on top, adding more seasoning to taste.  Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  Allow casserole to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes prior to serving.

This may be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.  Have casserole sit at room temperature for approximately 1 hour and bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven,  center rack. Sprinkle Panko topping mixture on top with dots of butter; cover with aluninum foil shiny side down; bake for 25-30 minutes; remove foil and bake until cheese is bubbling. Let casserole sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Related Content:

(Recipes for Fried Crab Cake Balls,

Apple and Pear Kabobs w/Cream Sauce Dip, and Baked Brie)


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