An old favourite with a smoky twist

At this time of year, we’re all about the turkey and the fruitcake, the shortbread, the rum balls, the tourtiere and the slow-cooked moose roast. But sometimes, in the midst of all these celebratory foods, we just feel like something simple. Like a melty, comforting, satisfying mac and cheese!

Kraft Foods invented the boxed version of macaroni and cheese in 1937, during the Depression, and there’s probably not a family in Canada that has not dined at one time or another on this mild and creamy classic, possibly with cut-up hot dog wieners thrown in. Some nights that was all my mother had time or energy for, and as kids we loved it.
The homemade version is more involved than mixing margarine, milk and cheese sauce mix into hot pasta, and a little more time-consuming, but it is so worth it, for the tang of parmesan, the crunch of the breadcrumb topping covered with cheese, and for the way the sauce gets right inside the pasta and shoots into your mouth with every bite.
Instead of hot dog wieners, try adding sausage, or bacon, or home-smoked salmon to your mac and cheese. The store-bought version of cold-smoked salmon could also work here, though I haven’t tried it.

Mac and cheese freezes well and it goes a long way. It’s a great dish for sharing with the neighbours in some of those aluminum take-out containers. Even if we can’t be eating with each other in our homes, we can still share a meal together, apart. And nobody has ever turned down home-cooked mac and cheese.
So, cooks, get your graters ready and grab the cheddar!

Smoked Salmon  Mac ’n‘ Cheese
Yield: 8 to 10

Smoked Salmon Mac ’n‘ Cheese

Cheesy and smoky, with a crispy breadcrumb topping. Be forewarned: you’ll use a lot of pots!


  • 450 gr penne pasta
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 oz (about 2 cups, lightly packed) grated old cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz (about 2 cups, lightly packed) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 8 oz hot-smoked salmon


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter your dishes. This recipe will make enough mac and cheese for one 3-inch deep 9 x 13 baking pan or three 2-inch deep 9 x 6-inch aluminum take-out pans for the neighbours.
  2. Bring a big pot of water to the boil, add a tablespoon of salt, add pasta, reduce heat to medium and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta and reserve.
  3. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium-sized pot, and when it’s sizzling, add the onion. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. In a separate pot, warm milk until it just begins to steam.
  5. Stir the flour into the onion and butter mix and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Pour warmed milk into the pot slowly, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  7. Whisk in the Dijon mustard and black pepper, and stir in the grated cheese.
  8. Cook for another 2 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove sauce from heat.
  9. Flake the smoked salmon into bite-sized pieces. Stir the sauce into the pot of pasta, followed by the smoked salmon.
  10. Transfer the mixture to your pan or pans and even out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top, followed by the cheeses.
  11. Bake for 50 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbling.



2 oz (about 1 cup, lightly packed) grated old cheddar cheese
2 oz (about 1 cup, lightly packed) grated parmesan
1/3 cup bread crumbs

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