Stairway to Heaven Mac and Cheese

Updated: Oct 22, 2020

From "The Infinite Feast: How to Host the Ones You Love—Recipes from the Big Easy . . . and Beyond" by Brian Theis, 2020 Click here for more on my new cookbook!


If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May queen.

—Led Zeppelin


This mac is plenty cheesy but somehow light and heavenly too. Don't buy pre-shredded cheese, shred it yourself. This mac is best eaten right out of the oven same day. Invite friends!



Stairway to Heaven Mac and Cheese

Makes 6 to 8 servings


3 cups (12 ounces) elbow macaroni

5 tablespoons butter, divided, more for dish

1 medium shallot, minced

2 large eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sour cream

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese

8 ounces Velveeta, in 1/2-inch cubes (or make your own right here!)

3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs


Heat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Cook macaroni in salted water till al dente. In medium skillet over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon butter, cook shallot till softened and lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes.

In medium bowl, combine shallot, eggs, heavy cream, sour cream, whisk together well.

In large mixing bowl, thoroughly stir together half the cheddar, all the pepper jack, all the Velveeta, then mix in macaroni.

In baking dish, spread half macaroni mixture evenly. Pour half cream mixture evenly over that. Repeat with remaining macaroni, cover evenly with remaining cream mixture. Top with second half cheddar.

In small saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Quickly stir in and fully coat panko, sprinkle mixture evenly atop casserole; you don't have to cover every inch with it.

Bake uncovered 40 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.


Cover of Led Zeppelin IV.


Stairway to Heaven

Jimmy Page/Robert Plant


There's a lady who's sure All that glitters is gold And she's buying a stairway to Heaven When she gets there she knows If the stores are all closed With a word she can get what she came for Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to Heaven

There's a sign on the wall But she wants to be sure 'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings In a tree by the brook There's a songbird who sings Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Ooh, it makes me wonder Ooh, it makes me wonder

There's a feeling I get When I look to the west And my spirit is crying for leaving In my thoughts I have seen Rings of smoke through the trees And the voices of those who standing looking

Ooh, it makes me wonder Ooh, it really makes me wonder And it's whispered that soon, If we all call the tune Then the piper will lead us to reason And a new day will dawn For those who stand long And the forests will echo with laughter

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow Don't be alarmed now It's just a spring clean for the May queen Yes, there are two paths you can go by But in the long run There's still time to change the road you're on And it makes me wonder

Your head is humming and it won't go In case you don't know The piper's calling you to join him Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow? And did you know Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

And as we wind on down the road Our shadows taller than our soul There walks a lady we all know Who shines white light and wants to show How everything still turns to gold And if you listen very hard The tune will come to you at last When all are one and one is all To be a rock and not to roll

And she's buying a stairway to Heaven

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