Herbed Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Serves 4-6


  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine, such as merlot
  • 2 cups apple cider, more as desired
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 8 whole star anise
  • 6 whole cinnamon sticks, plus more for serving
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ginger juice, to taste (optional)
  • Rosemary sprigs, for garnish
  • Cranberries, for garnish, optional


  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel 3-4 strips of zest off half of the orange. Slice the remaining half into thin rounds and set aside for garnish.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the red wine, apple cider, and the juice from the zested ½ orange. Add the orange zest, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer on low for 20 to 30 minutes. Be careful not to let it come to a boil.
  • Stir in the ginger juice, if using. Taste, and if you like your mulled wine sweeter, add more apple cider. If you like it more spiced, add more whole spices and simmer for 15 more minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, strain, and pour into a pitcher or mugs. Serve with the reserved orange rounds and cinnamon sticks. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and cranberries, if desired.


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat a 5 ½ qt Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the shallots and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes or so until softened, stirring often. Season with salt and black pepper.
  2. Add the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk for 30 seconds to cook out the flour. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously. Add the herb sprigs and more black pepper. Bring the milk to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 6-8 minutes until slightly thickened, stirring often.
  3. Meanwhile, drop the pasta into the boiling water, stir well, and cook for 1 minute less than the package’s instructions.
  4. Remove the herb sprigs. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Stir well to coat. Add the cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Stir over low heat until all of the cheese has melted and the sauce is super creamy. Lastly, stir in the parsley. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
  5. Serve the mac and cheese immediately and top with more freshly cracked black pepper.