ARLINGTON, Texas — Welp. Secret's out.
The greatest macaroni and cheese in the world is not on your table at Thanksgiving.
It's not at a Michelin star restaurant or your local hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint.
It's not in your mom's kitchen or at grandma's house.
It's at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Yes, the home of the Dallas Cowboys is also home to the best mac 'n cheese you will ever taste.
Finding stadium food that's edible -- much less best ever -- is an exercise in futility. But folks, we have found the exception, not the rule.
By now your eyes have fully rolled backwards 180 degrees but before you let skepticism permeate your frontal cortex, you should know all converts began as cynics, including the mac 'n cheese aficionado writing this
article column food review declaration which is sure to win a Pulitzer.
Expertly crafted by Legends Hospitality -- a multi-faceted company co-founded by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones -- the truffle mac 'n cheese is the golden goose of AT&T Stadium's menu for clubs/suites, private events and the press box.
“If you make a list of the 25 best mac 'n cheeses you’ve ever had, this one is 1 through 15," asserted Brad Sham, Voice of the Dallas Cowboys. “It’s life-altering.”
"It’s at the top of my list," echoed Todd Archer, a Cowboys reporter for ESPN.
"I often fill my whole plate with mac n cheese," admitted Jane Slater, a Cowboys reporter for NFL Network. "I literally can’t stop. Sometimes, not only do I get it pregame, I go searching for it at the half. It’s a problem.”
Yours truly saw the light in 2018 when I covered my first Cowboys game for WFAA.
(Pics or it didn't happen, right?)
One bite and I, rendered speechless, rotated my head to the colleague next to me.
A smirk grows wide on his face followed by a solemn veteran nod. "Yeah, it's amazing."
Words don't do it justice, and yet here I am rambling on.
So, let's cut to the
What makes it so good?
“I don’t know if Jerry Jones is flying in unicorn milk to make it taste as good as it does, but it’s basically like there’s a party in your mouth and everyone’s invited," enthuses Jimmy, Kempski, Philadelphia Eagles writer for PhillyVoice.com.
Kempski makes the annual pilgrimage to Arlington, along with one of the Cowboys' fiercest rivals.
According to Legends executive chef Marcelo Vasquez, they only use fresh and high-quality ingredients.
Vasquez gave me a 1-on-1 walkthrough of the mac-making process ahead of the kitchen's Super Bowl -- the Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving game.
Stacks of massive Barilla macaroni bags were piled high next to the boiling water as they prepared batch after batch.
(Pro tip: When making mac n' cheese at home, cook the macaroni al dente and let the heat from the cheese sauce cook it the rest of the way. That way you will avoid soggy, overcooked pasta.)
But the secret in this mac 'n cheese is undoubtedly the cheese sauce.
Vasquez says there are 20 ingredients in the sauce, including multiple cheeses like white cheddar and a good melting cheese. (He recommends finding similar high-quality cheeses when making it at home because they tolerate the heat better.)
Spices include salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne and a few others he could not disclose.
Unsung Hero: The sauce includes a reduction of white wine and shallots, which are prepared the day before the sauce is added to the macaroni.
X-Factor: Breadcrumbs are sprinkled on last. They are slow-roasted with truffle oil and dried parsley and stirred constantly. (There is no truffle oil actually poured into the sauce. #TheMoreYouKnow)
Game-changer: The secret cheese.
According to Vasquez and Legends Director of Food & Beverage George Wasai, this nearly 20-year-old confidential recipe features a special cheese, which is prepared (with spices) by another company.
Meaning, there is -- quite literally -- a cheese made specifically for this mac 'n cheese.
“Once you have it once, it’s addicting," Wasai said.
Because the Cowboys recipe is proprietary, the manufacturer cannot sell the spiced-up cheese outside of Legends Hospitality.
Where can you get it?
AT&T Stadium is the only place you can find this mac 'n cheese.
But if you have never experienced the gooey oasis that is a staple in the Jones family suite, fear not.
Fans not located in suites or the club level can still get the mac 'n cheese.
There are two Bent Buckle Barbeque stands in the upper concourse of AT&T Stadium that carry the same famous mac 'n cheese.
Those carts are located in Sections 410 and 450.
Green Bay may be the "Land of the Cheese," but AT&T Stadium is quickly turning Cowboys fans into cheeseheads one loving spoonful at a time.
In the spirit of the holiday season, WFAA donated dozens of trays of the Cowboys famous mac 'n cheese to feed 625 people across multiple homeless shelters in north Texas, including Austin Street Center, The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, United Gospel Mission of Tarrant County and The Salvation Army.