Nana’s Hoop Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

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When I was little, my grandfather was the butcher at a small grocery store/service station in the little bitty town of Camden, Alabama.  If you’re familiar with Camden, then you know it’s the kind of town where if you blink you’ll miss it.  Anyway, one of my fondest memories (I have lots of them) about my grandfather is when I would stay with my grandparents during the summer and I would go to work with him.  I remember my grandfather slicing pieces of cheese from a big old wheel of red wax hoop cheese and making cheese toast for breakfast in a little oven in the back of the store.  Lunch was always some more of that good hoop cheese and sliced deli meat.  You don’t find hoop cheese around much anymore, but when I walked into my local grocery store last week and eyed that bright red wax rind, I was instantly taken back to the days I’d spend with my grandfather.  Another highlight of that awesome cheese was my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese made with it.  To me, there is no better way to do mac and cheese than with some hoop cheese.  So I snatched up a big chunk of that stuff and the rest is history.

This is a super easy stove top version of mac and cheese.  It’s ooey, gooey and is sure to become an instant comfort food classic at your house.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups macaroni
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 lb red wax hoop cheese
  • 5oz can evaporated milk

 

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot..  Once boiling, add salt and macaroni and cook until tender.
  2. Cut cheese in small cubes.
  3. Drain macaroni and return to pot.  Add cheese and evaporated milk.
  4. Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.
Nana’s Hoop Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups macaroni
  • 1 quart water
  • 1½ tablespoon salt
  • ¾ lb red wax hoop cheese
  • 5oz can evaporated milk
Instructions
  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot.. Once boiling, add salt and macaroni and cook until tender.
  2. Cut cheese in small cubes.
  3. Drain macaroni and return to pot. Add cheese and evaporated milk.
  4. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
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Comments

  1. I love your stories. I can so see you with him in the store as a little boy:) Funny the thing you remember from childhood. I bet it is not at all the things they expected you to remember:)

  2. Stacey, I love your stories, too. They remind me of my childhood & all the good times we had that didn’t require a lot of money, just someone’s time. I LOVE hoop cheese, too. I am definitely going to try this recipe. Your pics of the mac & cheese look awesome! Wish I had a big bowl of it now!!!

  3. Stacey.

    My grandparents never had a meal that didn’t include slices of hoop cheese. I haven’t seen it in a long while. If I walked in a grocery store and saw it like you, I would probably break down and cry. Thanks for the story, Stacey!

    • I just love the stuff. The fun part as a kid was to be able to slice the cheese up and steal a few pieces in the process. :) I found it at a new locally owned place. They said they intend to keep it in stock. Yea!

      • When I’m next at Katherine’s, let me know where I can get some. The local source in Jacksonville where I grew up was Weaver’s Grocery. I worked part time for Mr. Weaver’s wife in her dress shop and she would send me across the square to get some hoop cheese and crackers for our “snack break” accompanied by a Co-cola in a bottle.

    • Go to your local meat market or butcher shop….maybe they sell it. Here in Tx we call it rat cheese…because we would take a bit of it & set rat traps with it. Or sometimes called brick cheese….also check deli shops.

  4. If I can’t find hoop cheese can I subsitute regular chedder? Mild or Sharp? This recipe for mac and cheese sounds awsome and I would love to try it out.

    • Absolutely! The type depends on your preference. I would suggest the sharp kind to most closely mimic the flavor of the hoop cheese. I’d also suggest cutting the cheese a bit smaller. Hoop cheese is pretty soft and melts pretty quickly. Regular cheddar is a bit harder and cutting it smaller should help it melt more quickly.

  5. Debbie Strum says:

    OK, Stacey…now you have me wondering what your grandfather’s recipe for cheese toast was! LOL Or are you saving that for a future post? ~hint,hint~

  6. If you can’t find the hoop cheese- you might try the Cracker Barrel version that is typically available in most grocery stores, or so I assume. However, I live in the South, so I’m not 100% sure what is readily available further north. It always stuns me when I go into a restaurant expecting to get what I always do only to find out that it’s a regional thing and I’m not in my region! Also- one of the other reasons (besides the giant boxes of brownie mix) I love wholesale clubs like BJ’s- they always have the most interesting cheese selection. Now I have something else to add to my grocery list!! Thanks!
    <3–J

  7. Lori Brown says:

    My husband used to get a Hunk of Hoop Cheese, a cold Pepsi (glass bottle) and a sleeve of Saltines from Trew’s Grocery in Delano,TN..
    We moved to Delano last August and the store is still standing, but no longer in business :-(

  8. Janet Ward says:

    We call that cheese “Longhorn Cheese” here in Texas….good recipe that I will definitely try. Thanks for sharing.

  9. On rare occasions my Dad would cut slices of hoop cheese & place in a small cast iron skillet. He melted the cheese in the oven to serve with homemade biscuits & ribbon cane syrup that came in metal cans at the grocery store. YUM! YUM! I can still see the melted cheese stretching long threads as we scooped the cheese out of the skillet onto each half of a biscuit; then topping it all off with the thick, stretchy syrup.

    We also made cheese toast as you mentioned, but again spread the top with syrup.

    The cheese nor the syrup tastes the same today as back then, but what does?!

  10. Your Nana’s mac and cheese recipe is the first homemade version, other than my mom’s, that I really want to make. Her recipe involved making a roux and it just seemed like a little more work, but yes, it was the best!! I don’t know if hoop cheese is a commonly sold cheese now, but I use a white sharp cheddar cheese in my recipe. Is this a good substitute? Also, does the evaporated milk give the recipe a special flavor?
    Thanks for sharing your recipe and also your memories!

    • Nancy, you are so sweet! If you’re going to use a sharp cheddar, you may need to add a little butter as the hoop cheese has a higher fat content. THe milk doesn’t affect the flavor as much as it just makes it very creamy. Enjoy!

  11. I was looking for a vermont white cheedar in Walmart and in the gourmet cheese case were blocks of Hoop Cheese! I started screaming be cause I had not seen it in years! Walmart of all places!!

  12. Debrah Warren says:

    Sounds just like the way my grandmother used to make mac & ch when I would go and stay with them. It brings back the best memories.The only difference was she baked it. does anyone know about it being baked? We have red rind cheese here in our little southern town still.

  13. I know that this is an old post but do you have a recipe for a baked version of this?

    • Hi Paul! Unfortunately, I don’t. My grandmother always did it on the stove so this is the only recipe I have that’s like this.

      • Using food amounts in recipe….Boil the noodles. Grate the hoop cheese. I mix mine with grated sharp that I grated. . Not the pre_grated because it makes it powdery. Save some cheese to cover the top. In a baking dish, put the cooked noodles over the cheese and stir really good to melt cheese some. Then stir in evap milk ( enough milk to that it slightly covers the top of noodles, 2 eggs and 1 egg white that are beat well before adding them, salt and pepper. Sprinkle on remaining cheese, cover with tin foil and Bake on 385 for about 45 to 1 hour. it will not look brown but If you want it browner, broil it for a few more min without tinfoil. Keep watch!!! Take out oven and let settle for 10 min. Ur main goal is to cook the egg and milk, and melt the cheese in this dish so some pple dont cook it so long. Its trial and error but it shld not be runny after sitting for 10 min.

  14. Virginia David Moore says:

    Stacey, you have taught this great-grandmother a new word. I grew up in Texas, lived in Idaho 24 years and now live in Florida. Nowhere have I ever heard of hoop cheese! I know Edam and Gouda cheeses have a red rind and I wonder if these are called hoop cheese in Alabama. The foods in different geographic areas are very different. For instance, nobody we knew in Idaho had ever heard of black-eyed peas or fried okra!
    They had a deprived life, didn’t they? :)

  15. re: a baked version … I grew up with hoop cheese as well … and I bet if you poured the mac & cheese into a baking dish, crushed up some butter crackers (ritz or townhouse), and sprinkled on top then put in the oven at about 350 for maybe 10 or 15 mins (just until it browns a bit) it would be really good.

    Just throwing it out there :)

  16. I found the hoop cheese but it didn’t melt! what did I do wrong? :(

  17. I put it in the microwave for a bit and it melted with a little clumping, we still ate it, it’s good cheese! only thing I can figure is that after I drained the pasta I put it in a serving bowl not the pot it was boiling in. Maybe that makes the difference? Anyway, my goof, still good food! I enjoy your site!

    • Thanks, Judy! Yep, putting it back in the pot is key because of the residual heat. Try that next time and I bet you’ll get a better melt from that cheese. Glad you enjoyed it anyway!

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