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Fonio Mac & Cheese

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December 28, 2020 by Max Baroni

There’s no better way to enjoy a wintery day than by making a rich, creamy bowl of mac & cheese from scratch. On the first big snowfall of the year when I was a kid, my mom always made a huge batch of mac & cheese and served it to the whole neighborhood when we came in from our day of sledding. I was lucky enough to be home with my family for this special day this year, so I took over the tradition.

I’m often thinking about how to incorporate fonio into family recipes and my favorite dishes, as it works in so many applications, but this one might reign supreme. It’s extra cheesy and fonio packed, with both fonio and fonio flour. By making it in a cast-iron skillet, you’ll get the crusty bottom everyone loves, plus a cheesy crunch on top thanks to the fonio crumble.


Serves 4 people
    • ½  cup dry Yolélé fonio, cooked according to packaging and cooled
    • pound medium pasta shells (or elbows)
    • 2 ½  cups whole milk
    • tablespoons unsalted butter
    • tablespoons fonio flour
    • cups grated sharp cheddar (1 cup set aside)
    • cup grated gruyère
    • teaspoons salt
    • teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • tablespoons neutral oil
    • sprigs sage, destemmed (optional)


      • 01 .  

        Preheat oven to 350°F and bring a large pot of water to boil.

      • 02 .  

        Following pasta package instructions, cook pasta to al dente (roughly 2 minutes less than instructed).

      • 03 .  

        While the pasta cooks: warm milk in a small pot on low heat. Then, in a large cast-iron skillet on medium heat, melt butter.

      • 04 .  

        Once the butter is fully melted, add in the fonio flour and whisk gently until mixture thickens (1-2 minutes).

      • 05 .  

        Turn the heat of the skillet down to medium-low heat, then slowly add warmed milk into the skillet, continually whisking until combined.

      • 06 .  

        Add the four cups of grated cheddar and a half cup of the gruyère gradually by the handful, whisking softly after adding to fully incorporate before adding the next.

      • 07 .  

        Once fully incorporated and smooth, mix in 1 cup of the cooked fonio and season with salt and pepper.

      • 08 .  

        Add pasta to the skillet and mix well to coat evenly.

      • 09 .  

        In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup cooked fonio with the remaining cheese. Spread mixture over pasta-filled skillet and distribute evenly to fully cover pasta.

      • 10 .  

        Carefully place the skillet into the oven on the middle rack and bake uncovered for 25 minutes, followed by 2 minutes under the broiler (on high) until crisp and lightly browned.

      • 11 .  

        In a small pan, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Crisp sage until slightly dark (1-2 minutes) and use to garnish.