Executive Chef Jonathan Dayton created the most fabulous macaroni and cheese at last weekend’s Great Macaroni and Cheese Bake-Off. Their unique and savory creation was a Baked Macaroni with Leelanau Cheese and Lamb Shoulder Confit. It was topped with toasted pine nuts and house made roasted garlic basil oil (a recipe is below). Only 30 votes separated the top three restaurants, with The Cooks’ House and Jolly Pumpkin in 2nd and 3rd.

Chef Jonathan is always creating culinary magic in the recently renovated kitchen at the Inn at Black Star Farms. Inn guests are delighted at his gourmet breakfasts and hospitality hour hors d’oeuvres.  His artfully prepared dishes inspire one to savor each bite.

Dinners are also offered at the Inn on select Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and are open to the public. Meals are prepared from ingredients grown or raised on the farm or sourced from within a 100 mile radius. A complete list of dates can be found on our website calendar. For more information or to make a dinner reservation please call the innkeeper at 231.944.1251.

Baked Macaroni with Leelanau Cheese and Lamb Shoulder Confit

Lamb shoulder

1 lamb shoulder roast, netting removed

½ cup kosher salt

¼ cup fresh ground black pepper

5 dried bay leaves crushed

8 cloves garlic crushed

6 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

6-8 cups duck fat, lamb fat, lard or extra virgin olive oil -Cure the lamb shoulder

Trim lamb into 4-6 pieces. Rub the meat with the salt, pepper and bay leaves and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Marinate the lamb

Rinse the lamb of the salt mixture and dry well. Place in a clean bowl with the rest of the mix and incorporate. Cover again and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Confit the lamb

Place lamb in a large enough pot/dutch oven so there is at least 4 inches of space between the meat and top of the rim. Cover meat with the chosen fat or olive oil and bring to a temperature where you see just a few bubbles rising, the key being to cook at a very low temperature at a slow pace. This can also be done in an oven at around 225F. Cook the lamb for 8-12 hours until the meat is soft and almost falling apart to the touch. Cool the meat on the counter at room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Roasted garlic basil oil

12 cloves garlic

4 cups extra virgin olive oil

½ pound fresh basil cleaned and de-stemmed roast garlic on stove top at medium until garlic rises to the top. Pull off burner and let cool to room temperature. Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil and drop basil in for 10-15 seconds. Pour into colander and then ice bath the basil immediately. Dry basil well by pressing with kitchen towel until all moisture is absorbed. Use multiple towels if necessary. Add basil and roasted garlic oil in blender and puree well. Place oil in refrigerator for 12 hours. Strain the oil thru some cheesecloth into a container and then pour into a squeeze bottle.

Macaroni and cheese

1/2-pound macaroni

3 tablespoons lamb fat

3 tablespoons flour

½ cup leeks

3 cloves roasted garlic

3 cups milk

6 oz. fromage blanc

6 oz. raclette

2-3 cups lamb confit

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup panko

1-tablespoon butter

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta al dente. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot warm the lamb fat over medium heat and add leeks. Caramelize the leeks stirring frequently for 4 -6 minutes. Whisk in the flour and garlic, keep the mixture moving for about 5 minutes to create your roux. Make sure it is free of any lumps. Whisk in the milk and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Incorporate the cheese until melted. Fold in your pasta and lamb confit and season to taste. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish. Melt butter in a saucepan and add panko and pine nuts to coat. Top the macaroni with the panko pine nut crust and bake for 30 minutes at 300F. Cut and plate garnishing with the roasted garlic basil oil.