Written by Dahlia Merlo on 02.05.16

You’ve probably drank Natrel milk at least once in your life, with your cookies as a snack or in your cereal, or maybe with that dark chocolate cake late at night. But did you know that Natrel has been around for 75 years? They are a Canadian dairy co-operative based in Montreal! They were formed in 1990 as the dairy subsidiary of Agropur agricultural cooperative, and Agropur was founded in 1938. Talk about a long lineage or dairy products!

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To motivate people to get back into the kitchen, Natrel started a year-long contest celebrating the delicious mac ‘n cheese. 52 weeks, 52 recipes, and a whole lot of cheese. The #NatrelMac Challenge aims to reinvent the classic mac ‘n cheese dish with new and innovative recipes that are sure to be party pleasers. Their goal is to highlight the diversity of dairy products, showing us that they’re not just for milk and cookies.

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Natrel challenges Canadians to re-create one of the 52 recipes inspired by a different theme every week (find the recipes here) or to create your very own mac ‘n cheese dish! To enter the contest, post a picture of your dish on Instagram with the hashtag #NatrelMac and tag @Natrel in the description.

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A winner is drawn every month and will get a Le Creuset prize. At the end of the 52 weeks, the grand prize will be a Le Creuset 4.2 L French oven, 4 mini round cocottes, and a vintage towel. The grand total of the prizes is worth $2,875! A pretty penny for incredible cooking tools.

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Natrel picked out a mac ‘n cheese for us to try out and the results were delicious and cheesy. We were armed with Apropur Cooperative cheeses, a Le Creuset mini cocotte, and a pretty pot customized by Montreal artist PONY. Time to get cheesing!

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– 375 g (750 ml-3 cups) orzo, cooked al dente
– 60 ml (¼ cup) Natrel butter
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
– 60 ml (¼ cup) flour
– 625 ml (2½ cups) Natrel 3.25% Fine-filtered milk
– 45 ml (3tbsp) chopped chives
– 250 ml (1 cup) Natrel 35% or 10% Lactose Free cream
– 500 ml (2 cups) Agropur Grand Cheddar aged for 2 years, grated
– 250 g Brie cheese, to taste
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 250 ml (1 cup) flour
– 3 lightly beaten eggs
– 500 ml (2 cups) panko-style breadcrumbs


1. In a pot, melt butter and soften onion and pepper for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add flour and stir for 1 minute, making sure the flour doesn’t brown.
3. Gradually add milk and cream, beating with a whisk to obtain a smooth sauce.
4. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly until the sauce thickens.
5. Add cheddar cheese, the chive and pasta.
6. Pour into a dish and cool for about an hour.
7. Shape the mixture into balls, insert a little Brie cheese in the centre and close carefully.
8. Roll in flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in turn.
9. Fry the bites a few minutes in oil until crispy and golden. Serve with your favourite tomato sauce, to taste.

Bon appétit!

Photos and culinary adventure-seeking: Dahlia Merlo (@dahllii)

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