Great Mac `n Cheese!

by Dorothy Reinhold on September 17, 2011

Print This Post Print This Post Great Mac `n Cheese! Cheddar and Gruyere marry into a rich sauce, and Parmesan potato chips crown the top! |

My neighbor John Liu has become famous in our town for his mac `n cheese.

Loaded with Gruyere and cheddar, this is a comforting, cheesy bomb of goodness topped with crushed Ruffles.

Yeah, he went there. Forget butter bread crumbs. Ruffles rule.

Let’s let him show us how to make it…

Making a roux

First, he makes a roux with butter and flour.

Stir the sauce

Stir the milk into the roux.

Stir in the seasonings.

Stir in the cheeses

Stir in the cheeses — gruyere and cheddar!

Mac `n Cheese into the baking dishes

Stir in the cooked elbow macaroni, and portion it into the baking dishes. Pop into the oven.

Crushing potato chips

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, crush the Ruffles by hand, and sprinkle in the Parmesan.

Potato chips onto the mac `n cheese

With about 10 minutes to go in the oven, sprinkle the potato chips onto the mac `n cheese.

Potato chips onto the mac `n cheese

Use all of the parmesan-y potato chips.

John Liu checks on the mac `n cheese

Once the chips are on top, watch for browning after about 10 minutes.

John Liu's mac `n cheese

Browned and out of the oven!

Coltrane Liu eats mac `n cheese

Daughter Coltrane digs in.

Tovo Liu eats mac `n cheese

Son Tovo couldn’t wait for lunch!

John Liu

John Liu gets to sample his mac `n cheese.

Want to make this delicious mac `n cheese? It’s easy, and the recipe is below. You can read more about John, including his favorite Southern California markets and his cooking inspirations, over on Malibu Patch in my column.

Great Mac `n Cheese!

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: Serves 8-10 as a side dish

Cheddar and Gruyere cheeses marry into a rich sauce for this locally famous mac 'n cheese, topped with the crowning glory -- Parmesan potato chips!


  • 2 cups large elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half (can use whole milk)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 handfuls Ruffles potato chips (John prefers Ruffles® Natural Reduced Fat Sea Salted Potato Chips)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add about a tablespoon of kosher salt to the water. Cook macaroni until al dente and drain well. Set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan, melt the butter and then stir in the flour to make a roux. Pour in the half and half (or milk) and cook over medium heat until just before it boils, stirring constantly so as not to burn the mixture. It will thicken slightly. Stirring will also help dissolve the flour mixture. Slowly add the cheddar and gruyere to the sauce while stirring; it will thicken considerably.
  4. Once the cheese is melted, add the cooked macaroni and stir into the cheese sauce. Flavor with a dash of garlic salt and nutmeg. Taste, and add kosher salt and pepper to your taste.
  5. Pour mixture into a 13- by 9-inch baking dish and bake for about 45 minutes.
  6. While dish is baking, toss potato chips into a mixing bowl, and crush them with your hands. He says you can do it in a blender, but observes that using your hands is more fun! Add the Parmesan cheese and mix with the crushed chips.
  7. During the last 5-10 minutes of baking time, generously sprinkle the cheesy crushed chips on top of the mac `n cheese. Return to the oven and finish baking. Chips will be crispy and slightly browned.
  8. (You can run the dish under the broiler if you like, but he warns that the chips burn easily, so don’t walk away if you choose to do this.)
  9. Serves 8-10.


Recipe source: John Liu of Malibu, California.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine Martinelli March 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Oh wow – potato chips?! Thanks again for linking up to my blog hop! Pinned 🙂


suebaby September 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

Wow, what is up with your neighborhood and all their goodies.. mmmmm! My new goal is to make enough money to move into your neck of the woods. For now, guess I’ll have to just try and stalk you all, so if you see a shadowy figure at the end of your driveway wandering back and forth clutching a spoon, don’t shoot; just toss your leftovers in my direction and I’ll duke it out with the raccoons.


Dorothy September 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Yes, we are blessed with some gifted cooks here in the ‘hood!


Sippitysup September 18, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I like the roux method too. There is some controversy though…q GREG


Aimee September 18, 2011 at 3:15 am

Great post! I love mac & cheese but have never been able to make a nice one myself. I’ll follow these steps next time and I bet it will be delicious 🙂


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