Mac and Cheese & Collard Greens

This baked mac and cheese is delicious. It was one of the first soul food dishes I learned to make, and I pull it out for every special occasion.

My rendition is super rich but also seasoned enough so that it doesn’t just taste like noodles and cheese. It is also Velveeta free, which is a MUST for me. A simple béchamel sauce made with cream cheese gives you all the creaminess you need. They pair perfectly with smoky braised collard greens.

Inspired by recipes from Divas Can CookI Heart Recipes and The Kitchenista.

  • Author: The Diasporic Dish
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Soul Food



Southern Baked Mac and Cheese

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Bechamel sauce
    • 2 tbsp flour
    • 1 cup evaporated milk
    • 1.5 cups half and half
    • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 8 ounces gouda, shredded
    • 8 ounces havarti cheese, shredded
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika, reserve 1/4 tsp
    • 3/4 tsp black pepper, reserve 1/4 tsp
    • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
    • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ounces Colby jack, shredded
  • 2 ounces Monterey Jack, shredded
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 

Braised Collard Greens with Smoky Pot Liquor (aka Broth)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 smoked turkey necks
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 dried red chiles
  • 4 cups of collard greens, washed and sliced
  • Unsalted butter
  • Hot sauce, for garnish


Southern Baked Mac and Cheese

  1. Fill a medium pot with water. Bring to a boil and add enough salt so that the water tastes like a seasoned broth.
  2. Cook 1 pound of elbow macaroni according to the box instructions for al dente. Do not overcook. No one wants mushy macaroni noodles. Drain and set aside.
    al dente Macaroni
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter and mix in 2 tablespoons of flour.
  4. Add a cup of evaporated milk and 1.5 cup half and half.
  5. Turn heat on low and add in 4 ounces of softened cream cheese, 8 ounces of shredded gouda and 8 ounces of shredded havarti cheese.
  6. Add a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce to the cheese mixture. The later two ingredients add a nice burst of umami and depth of flavor to the heavy cheese.
    bechamel sauce
  7. Mix the cheese sauce into the macaroni noodles.
    mixing macaroni with béchamel
  8. Layer ½ of the cheese pasta mixture into a cast iron skillet. Top with 2 ounces of shredded colby jack, 2 ounces of shredded monterey jack, and 4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese.
  9. Add the rest of the cheese pasta mixture on top. Top with 2 ounces of shredded colby jack, 2 ounces of shredded monterey jack, and 4 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese.
  10. Sprinkle the mac and cheese with 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.
    layering cheese for Mac and cheese
  11. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes (until the crust is golden brown and a little crispy).
  12. Remove the baked mac and cheese from the oven. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. 

Braised Collard Greens with Smoky Pot Liquor (aka Broth)

  1. Heat a large pot on medium high heat. Add a little oil. I used the leftover oil from a deep-fried turkey I made for Thanksgiving for extra flavor.
  2. Sear three turkey necks in the oil, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
    saute turkey necks with aromatics
  3. Sautée a large diced yellow onion in the leftover turkey fat along with salt and pepper. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to release the brown bits of flavor.
  4. Add four minced garlic cloves, a tablespoon smoked paprika, teaspoon red pepper flakes. Return the turkey necks to the pot.
  5. Add five cups of chicken stock, two bay leaves, and a teaspoon of dried thyme.
    deglaze with stock
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the fire to low, and cover for the pot for two hours.
  7. Remove the turkey necks, let them cool, and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Return them to the pot along with some salt, two dried red chiles, a diced onion, and two cloves of minced garlic.
  8. Add 4 cups of washed collard greens cut into thin strips to the pot. Simmer them covered until tender (but not mushy), about one hour.
    add the collard greens
  9. Remove the greens from the broth and let the liquid reduce a little so the flavor can be more concentrated.
  10. Add the greens back to the pot along with a pat of butter, salt and pepper. Serve with a little hot sauce on top!


Keywords: Soul Food, Mac and Cheese, Collard Greens, Side Dishes