These hands-down favorite recipes—prepared with bountiful amounts of creamy, melty Michigan-made cheese—check all the comfort boxes.
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There comes a time to indulge in the cheesiest. Ever. We have you covered with a warm goat cheese appetizer, cheesy potatoes bubbling in a cast iron skillet, raclette-cloaked Brussels sprouts, or a crumb-topped mac with a special ingredient.
Goat Cheese Marinara
The creator of this recipe, wine aficionado and cross-country skier Rob Crandell of Elk Rapids, knows food tastes even better after you are out in the snow all day—so he likes to re-warm the jammy tomato sauce and creamy goat cheese outside on a portable grill or small bonfire for an après ski snack. A hot oven works, too, of course.
For a local and award-winning goat cheese option, we love tangy, smooth Idyll Pastures garlic and herb from Northport’s hillside creamery, Idyll Farms.
• 1 onion chopped
• 2 cloves garlic minced
• 1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil
• 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (such as San Marzano)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon oregano
• 1/4 teaspoon thyme
• 4-ounce log or round of goat cheese (try Idyll Farms plain or garlic and herb)
• Herbes de Provence
• Baguette or boule of quality bread
Photo by Todd Zawistowski
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme and cook on low for 3 hours to reduce and concentrate flavors. Place tomato mixture in small baking dish and set goat cheese on top; sprinkle with a dash of herbes de Provence and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until it becomes the consistency of a spread.
Slice the baguette or cut/tear the boule into bite-size pieces. Serve bread with the warm marinara and goat cheese.
Brussels Sprouts and Raclette Gratin
Beautiful bright Brussels in a warm blanket of local raclette cheese you say? Then I guess we’re not getting out from under the covers today.
Photo by Courtney Kent
Thank you to John and Anne Hoyt, founders and former owners of Leelanau Cheese in Suttons Bay for this crave-worthy recipe. The Hoyts—and now their successors, master cheesemakers Joshua Hall and Gary Smith—specialize in cave-aged raclette.
• 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed of outer leaves and halved
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 3 shallots, peeled, halved, and sliced
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 ¾ cup whole milk
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
• 6 ounces Leelanau Cheese raclette, grated, divided (or enough to yield 2 cups)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Butter a large ovenproof gratin dish. Prepare an ice water bath. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add salt. Blanch Brussels sprouts 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, shock briefly in ice water bath to stop cooking, drain again, and set aside.
Melt butter over medium heat in medium saucepan and add shallots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour to butter-shallot mixture and stir with a wooden spoon about 1 minute to make a roux. Add milk and stir until roux is incorporated into milk. Cook over medium-low heat for several minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in half the cheese and stir to incorporate into sauce. Spoon Brussels sprouts into prepared gratin dish, cover with cheese sauce, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 25–30 minutes until top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6–8 as a side dish.
Boss Mouse Mac & Cheese
This creamy, custardy, crunchy recipe was born at Boss Mouse Cheese, cheesemaker Sue Kurta’s storybook farm in Kingsley. This dish uses one glorious pound of freshly grated Boss Mouse sharp cheddar and gets added richness from a dab of her handmade, cold-smoked butter.
• 1 pound elbow macaroni
• 1 pound Boss Mouse sharp cheddar
• 8 ounces cream cheese
• 2 heaping tablespoons Boss Mouse smoked butter
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 1/8–1/4 cup half & half or milk
• 1/4–1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
• Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook and drain macaroni. Cut cheddar into cubes or shred. Over low heat, add butter, cheeses, eggs, milk, salt and pepper to the macaroni. Pour into greased dish (recipe fits a 9×13-inch rectangular casserole pan or a 3-quart casserole dish). Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes. Recipe serves 8.
The Ultimate Up North Cheesy Potatoes Recipe
To take these creamy potatoes with their gilded crust over the top, we like the sharp and edgy, but still supremely melty Michigan-made Pinconning cheeses found the specialty dairy case at most Northern Michigan grocers. After their turn in the oven, these gooey-good potatoes need a bit of crunch and a kiss of additional saltiness. Add a few crushed Great Lakes Kettle Cooked Originals made with Michigan potatoes cooked in small batches.
Photo by Dave Weidner
• 4 tablespoons butter (plus additional for greasing skillet)
• 1 teaspoon ground mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon paprika
• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups whole milk
• 2 cups grated sharp Pinconning OR cheddar cheese
• 1 1/2 cups grated mild Pinconning OR mild cheddar cheese (divided)
• 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
• 3/4 cup crushed potato chips
• Minced chives
• Additional fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat, add spices and garlic and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Whisk in flour, cook while whisking 3 minutes.
Whisk in milk, smoothing out any lumps. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Gradually stir in 2 cups sharp Pinconning (or sharp cheddar) and 1 cup mild Pinconning (or mild cheddar). Add potatoes and toss to coat. Simmer in sauce for 5 minutes.
Pour potatoes into a well-buttered 12-inch cast iron skillet. Top with remaining 1/2 cup mild cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan, and bake, loosely covered with foil for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes more or until cheese is bubbly and potatoes are tender. Carefully remove from oven (handle and pan are hot!). Sprinkle with crushed potato chips, chives and thyme. Serves 8–10.