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Wingin’ It: Buffalo Crisp Mac & Cheese for Bills vs. Dolphins

A great meal to warm up with before a game that should be a little colder than last time

2022 Wingin it - Dolphins at Bills - Mac and cheese

Can you believe it? Season 5 of Wingin’ It. Where has the time gone? For any newcomers, here’s the premise: It’s hungry work being a fan of the Buffalo Bills. Every week of the regular season and postseason, Buffalo Rumblings brings you a recipe to try out with a “Buffalo” twist.

The last time the Bills and Miami Dolphins faced off was in the sweltering Florida sun. This time, things ought to be a bit chillier, which means we’re breaking out a cold-weather comfort food recipe. I’ve already done my Mac’N Cheater recipe for Wingin’ It, but it’s time to bring out the big gun — that is, actual homemade mac and cheese. We wing up the cracker topping to give it a Buffalo twist, but otherwise it’s just glorious mac and cheese.

Buffalo Crisp Mac & Cheese

Serves: 6-8
Active Time: 30 min
Total Time: 90 minutes


Mac & Cheese

1 pkg (16 oz) pasta (elbows are traditional)
1 stick butter (divided into two halves)
About 4 Tbsp flour (see tips below)
12 tsp garlic powder
12 tsp onion powder
14 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups whole milk
6 cups sharp cheddar cheese (24 oz.), separated into 6 equal chunks
12 tsp salt

Buffalo Crisp topping

1 12 cups crushed crackers
5 Tbsp hot sauce

You’ll need: 9”x13” glass baking dish

  1. Boil pasta per package directions; drain well. Transfer cooked pasta to baking dish (this can be done while preparing cheese sauce to save time).
  2. Prepare cheese sauce: Melt half a stick of butter in a large sauce pan on MED-LOW.
  3. Stir garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper; allow to combine 1-2 min.
  4. Stir in flour to create a roux* (see tips below to adjust as needed). Continue stirring roux until it begins to brown, about 3-5 min.
  5. Stir in milk a little at a time, no more than half a cup with any single pour; mix thoroughly with each pour. (It helps to warm the first cup of milk before adding to pan.) Allow the mixture to warm back up each time before adding more milk. Once all the milk is added, continue stirring 1-2 min.
  6. Add all 6 chunks of cheese and salt to sauce in pan; stir periodically until all cheese has melted in. (Feel free to taste when nearly done — you may want to add more salt based on preference.)
  7. Carefully pour cheese sauce over pasta in baking dish; stir in.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare Buffalo Crisp: Melt remaining half stick of butter in a large fry or sauté pan on MED-HIGH.
  9. Stir in crushed crackers to evenly coat; continue stirring 3-4 min.
  10. Stir in hot sauce; continue stirring over heat until crispy again, about 5-7 min. Remove from heat.
  11. Sprinkle crisp topping onto mac & cheese in pan. Place pan in oven; bake 35 min.
  12. Remove pan from oven; allow prepared mac and cheese to rest at least 5 min before serving.

Wingin’ It Tips and Prep Gallery

*A quick tip before we hit the gallery. Making a roux is often done by using weight measurements for your butter and flour. The measurements above with Tbsp amounts gives a good start, but you may need to tweak a bit. Stick with the butter amount, but there’s a chance you’ll need a little extra flour. Aim for a library paste consistency: thick enough to not fall back on itself easily.

Now for the pictures. The first one is with the first cup of milk added to the roux. It’s more like mashed-potato consistency than “sauce” and that’s okay — it’s where it’s supposed to be. It’ll thin out as you add more, just make sure to thoroughly stir in each time you add more.

Next up is the size of the chunks I add. That’s about 4 oz per chunk. If you bought one large brick, the total amount is about three-quarters of the brick cut into six (what I did). If you’re buying smaller bricks it’s usually three, cut in halves. Buying smaller bricks does allow you to mix and match cheeses, but be careful because not every cheese is good for mac & cheese.

A temp tip for the cheese melting step. Most recipes use LOW, MED, or HIGH as the baselines. Too high can lead to cheese components separating. Too low won’t melt the cheese at all. My stove top has a scale of ten. The cheese melt temp of MED-LOW is more precisely a 3 or 3.5 when I’m making a cheese sauce. A lot of recipes call for shredded cheese to allow for easier melting. Most recipes also call for you to simmer the white sauce (roux + milk) for a period of time before adding the cheese. My method allows for the water evaporation you need to happen without worrying about timing an extra step. The cheese melt and water evaporation times using this trick work out about the same.

Next up is the crackers before tossing in butter or adding hot sauce. You don’t need to turn them into dust. The next cracker picture is midway through cooking. Notice they’ve pilled up a bit due to the moisture.

There’s a picture of the entire dish. 1 1/2 cups for the crackers will cover the entire thing. If you have to cater to different eaters like we all do sometimes, feel free to adjust as needed. In my case I did 1 cup of crackers split into halves. One is with the hot sauce added, the other is not. The hot-sauce version of the topping is the darker coloration in the middle.