Here at Hustle Belt, the MAC Championship is a pretty big deal. Of course, given that we're a MAC blog and tonight is the night college football revolves around the Mid-American Conference (for a few hours, at least), this may as well be a national holiday as far as we're concerned.
As a recent convert to #MACtion myself, I'm always on the lookout for ways to spread the good word of the MAC to those around me. So to help everyone get as excited for tonight's game as we are, I put together a recipe you can use to make dinner tonight while you watch the MAC Championship. This recipe uses only the finest ingredients - that is, they are inspired by each and every team in the MAC. Come along with me on a culinary journey, where we'll learn a little about every team in this beloved conference, as well as how they relate to eating dinner (or how they relate to eating dinner after a huge stretch).
Let's get started!
When I set out to make a MAC-themed recipe, really only one dish stood out as an option: MAC and Cheese. It's delicious, easy to make, and the name is a play on words so obvious that I couldn't believe no one on the internet had done it before (or if they had, that Google didn't know about it). Macaroni and cheese is wonderfully customizable, so with a little legwork, I was able to come up with a way to make a MAC and Cheese dish sure to make fans of every single MAC school proud, or possibly mad at me for giving their school a dumb ingredient. We'll see! Here's how to do everything I did, step-by-step, with team inspirations in bold.
To start your MAC and Cheese, first you must go to the grocery store and pick up some ingredients. I recommend going to the Meijer in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which is the home city of Eastern Michigan University. I didn't poll my fellow shoppers, but I assume everyone there was an Eagles die-hard.
Once you get home from Ypsilanti, it's time to start on your MAC and Cheese. First, bring a pot of water to boil while counting your blessings that you are allowed to boil water after Toledo residents weren't for part of this year. In August, the water supply in the home of the Rockets was contaminated by Microcystin, a potent toxin that remarkably survives boiling. This saddled Toledo with a double-whammy "Do not drink" and "Do not boil" order, which would not only make completing this recipe a challenge, but a lot of other stuff too. Sorry that happened to you, Toledo.
Next, add some salt to your water, as one does when making pasta. Make sure to use iodized salt, which has its roots in a goiter-busting experiment conducted in Akron from 1916-1920. Here's a link that can tell you a lot more about that, but the bottom line is, without a test group of 10,000 Akron schoolgirls, this blog could have been called "Goiter Belt" instead of Hustle Belt.
While your goiter-prevention water comes to a boil, dice up some peppers and sautée them in a pan with a little butter. I recommend using two types of peppers. Start with a red bell pepper to represent Miami, wearers of red and members of a rivalry with Cincinnati for the Victory Bell. To turn up the heat in the pan, toss in a rival ingredient. How about a diced jalapeño for Ohio, because the Bobcats are not only a rival to Miami but also, like the stately jalapeño, they wear green. Mix the peppers well in the pan, and allow them to cook while engaging in a tiny, delicious little Battle of the Bricks.
Once your water has reached a boil, you can add in the heart of your MAC and Cheese, which is mac and cheese. Use Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (also known as Kraft Dinner for those readers north of the border), because Kraft is based in Northern Illinois (Northfield, Illinois, to be exact), and because its cheese is an outrageous color of orange that doesn't exist in nature, but is also represented in Bowling Green's uniforms. How fitting that both of the MAC Championship teams are represented in the base of this dish! You could even celebrate tonight's game by just eating plain Kraft mac and cheese. But don't do that, because I spent a lot of time on the rest of this.
After your pasta cooks and you have drained it and added the Bowling Green cheese powder, stir in 1/4 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of Land O'Lakes Butter, which was made in the Land O'Lakes factory just two miles from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. Success! You have made macaroni and cheese. Let's make it a little more interesting.
Your Ohio-Miami rivalry peppers have probably finished their sautée by now. Declare a rivalry winner and stir them into your macaroni. Next, add hot sauce and blue cheese to your mac and cheese to make it Buffalo-style. Feel free to apply both of these ingredients liberally for some real kick, unless you think blue cheese is gross, which, it's just mold, get over it.
Now that you have an excellent main course prepared, put together some side dishes. I cut up a McIntosh apple from Michigan. Now, my bag of apples didn't specify from where in Michigan they came, but allegedly there is or was at some point something called "McIntosh Orchards" in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, the home of Central Michigan University. This website says that particular orchard has existed for 70 years but the website link is dead, while Facebook thinks it may be permanently closed. I could have done more investigative journalism here, but your macaroni is getting cold at this point so we'll just cash out and say the apple is a Central Michigan apple. I also had a leftover dinner roll that my wife made for Thanksgiving, so if you have one of those, go for it.
To drink (as long as you're 21), crack open a Samuel Adams Irish Red, because Sam Adams is brewed in Massachusetts, and UMass wears red. For dessert, enjoy a scoop of Hudsonville Ice Cream, proudly made in Holland, Michigan, about one hour away from Western Michigan University.
With that, you have completed a #MACtion-packed MAC and Cheese meal sure to be a conference champion in your heart and stomach, and you've done it with the help of every MAC team except for Ball State. Congratulations!
But Ball State is one of our proud MAC teams, so we need to find a way to get them in here. I considered drinking my beer out of a Ball jar, or driving to Muncie, Indiana to eat this meal (I didn't strongly consider this option), but I managed to find the best solution of all:
Eat this meal across from a framed print of famous cartoon cat Garfield (who was created by Ball State alumnus Jim Davis) that you own for some reason.
Beautiful. Enjoy the #MACtion, folks.