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A Smoky Cannabis Mac N’ Cheese recipe to cure your munchies 

click to enlarge DIONNE ROBERTS
  • Dionne Roberts
My appreciation for cannabis and gastronomic culture runs deep, so I’m always looking for opportunities to combine these two life passions.

I feel that marijuana holds a mysterious and semi-untapped pantry of flavor profiles that has bountiful potential in both the food and beverage industries. So naturally, I pounced on the chance to sit down with Jeff Fryer, executive chef at Alchemy in Old Colorado City, to discuss his experiences cooking with weed and to absorb one of his go-to cannabis comfort foods. (Note: Alchemy does not serve any canna-enhanced dishes.)

“I’ve just done it [cooked with cannabis] with some friends, but after Amendment 64 passed we became interested in learning more,” says Fryer. “I’m not a big smoker, but we’ve tried different recipes and I like to infuse it into a lot of Asian cuisine.”

Fryer prefers to create his canna-butter at home using coconut oil which is comparable to butter for cooking at high heat and a wise choice for fajitas or stir fry. Whether it’s Szechuan chicken or an American classic, Fryer says he feels that “it adds a different element to every style of cuisine and that high acid notes work really well with certain blends.” His personal preferences appropriately lean into “more smoky flavors when it comes to infusing marijuana.” It’s easy for me to see why that complements the earthy and herbaceous qualities of the greenery. 
click to enlarge Executive chef Jeff Fryer - DIONNE ROBERTS
  • Dionne Roberts
  • Executive chef Jeff Fryer

We also agree that beyond taste, cannabis dishes offer heightened sensual experiences across the board. Marijuana notoriously has a distinct smell, and the physical euphoria of eating good food, of course, gets an additional boost from the bud. Much like lighting a sprig of rosemary or garnishing a cocktail with mint leaves for bonus aromatics, Fryer recommends burning a small flower and setting it on the plate to elevate the overall affair.

“You’re creating that body high, you’re getting that feeling and you take in those flavors a little differently,” says Fryer. “It definitely affects your palate and the rest of your senses. The way you smell that dish, taste it, you catch those notes more and it helps bring those flavors out.”

Of course, we all know that canna-cuisine — particularly when homemade — can pack a rather unexpected punch. Fryer acknowledges that the most common mistake when consuming cannabis is deciphering proper dosages. Too much THC can take the evening from what Fryer refers to as a “light feeling” to a “curl up in a corner” kind of night.

“Be mindful of THC content to help determine the strength of the butter,” says Fryer. “Decide: Are we going to take a nap in 45 minutes or go do something around the house? Try a little sample of that and see how it takes it to the next level.”

Fryer shares his recipe for Smoky Cannabis Mac ‘N’ Cheese that he describes as “your standard process” which I successfully recreate at home. His recommendation to use “some good cavatappi noodles” makes for a structured starch that holds the creamy blended sauce well with a generous amount of smoky paprika and a hint of nutmeg. I choose to top mine with panko breadcrumbs and a cheddar blend for some added lightness and a flaky texture. As I proudly pull the pan out of the oven I watch the steam waft upwards like an ethereal cloud of smoke, grab a bowl and sit down to a very satisfying and very dank Sunday dinner.
click to enlarge DIONNE ROBERTS
  • Dionne Roberts

Smoky Cannabis Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Ingredients

½ lb cavatappi noodles
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp salt

Cheese Sauce:
5 Tbsp canna butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk, warm
4 oz smoked mozzarella/
gouda, grated
8 oz medium cheddar, grated
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Topping:
1 cup breadcrumbs (we opt for panko)
1 Tbsp canola oil (or canna oil is optional)
2 oz sharp cheddar, grated
Optional: add crumbled applewood smoked bacon on top

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Fill a large pot with water, oil and salt. Bring to a boil, add the noodles and cook accordingly. Drain well.

In a small saucepan, melt the canna butter (find many recipes online). Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly for five minutes. Add the warm milk and cook for an additional one to three minutes until thickened and smooth. Add the cheese, salt, paprika, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cooked noodles and stir well. Pour into six to eight buttered ramekins or a 9-by-13 casserole dish.

In a small bowl, combine the canola oil with the breadcrumbs and sharp cheddar. Sprinkle on top of the filled ramekins or casserole dish. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the noodles and cheese are brown on top.

— Jeff Fryer, executive chef at Alchemy

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