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I've noticed that american and gruyere are dominant cheeses recommended in mac and cheese recipes. I assume this has to do with their mild flavors and ability to melt somewhat quickly. But what is to prevent someone from using cheeses like parmesan or blue cheese? Is there a criteria for what constitutes an optimal mac-and-cheese cheese?

  • This question is a little bit subjective because you're asking about an "optimal" cheese. If you're looking for substitutions for a specific recipe, or if you want to know what cheeses to avoid entirely and why, you may want to edit your question for better answers. – logophobe May 29 '14 at 21:17
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I can think of three general reasons why some cheeses are better than others for melting:

Age: The age of a cheese often determines how well it'll melt. For instance, a 5 year old cheddar will (generally) not melt very well into a bechamel sauce.

Texture: You may find that stringy cheeses like mozzarella make the mac'n'cheese more difficult to eat, as it's a little impractical to have strands of cheese hanging from your spoon. At the same time, cheeses like parmesan or feta may not melt the way you'd expect for a cheese sauce

Taste: As for flavour .. I don't think many people would line up for macaroni and blue cheese :o

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    +1 for everything except your last point. Blue cheese doesn't work as the core of a mac & cheese but it's an excellent accent. Especially when paired with crumbled bacon. Edit: like so... gimmesomeoven.com/blue-cheese-bacon-macaroni-cheese-recipe – logophobe May 29 '14 at 21:13
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    Most types of blue cheese are delicious with pasta. On the other hand, expectations play a large role in our appreciation of a dish. Coffee mistaken for tea can taste awful, even if the drinker normally enjoys coffee. In the same way mac and cheese made with Roquefort or Gorgonzola will taste different to how most people would expect, and might therefore go unappreciated. – Chris Steinbach May 29 '14 at 21:17

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