Food + Wine

Mackin’ All The Cheese

I don’t have a recipe to share with you for my Mac n Cheese.  Which, I know probably pisses you off… especially after my last post with the cookies.   But unlike that one, there is actually a point to this post.  It’s not a recipe, but I’m gonna share with you some of my tips for making your macaroni and cheese the best it can be.

Here’s why I don’t have a recipe.  I don’t believe in a mac n cheese recipe.  It’s one of those things I make all the time, and can do with my eyes closed, and even though it always comes out really well and tasting pretty much the same, the ‘recipe’ changes every time based on what I have in the house.

Mac n Cheese is a method.  Not a recipe.  So any recipe you see out there does not differ from any other apart from the different kind of pasta they may use or the cheese combination.  Unless of course they’re trying to sell you a diet version, which I completely disagree with.  I don’t mind adding some pureed veggies to the cheese sauce to bulk up the fiber, and I always use a whole grain pasta, and use probably less butter and real cream than the average, but that’s about as ‘diet’ as I go.

Look.  Mac n cheese is this:

  • Pasta
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milky liquid of choice
  • Bread crumbs if desired
  • Fork
  • Napkin

But it’s what you do within those ingredients and little flavor flourishes here and there that can make yours stand out.

Here’s the breakdown-

You boil your pasta in heavily salted water until before it’s al dente.  It’s gonna continue to cook, so pull it out when it is too chewy to eat at it’s core but soft around the exterior.  You drain it.  You do not rinse it.

You make a roux with equal parts butter (I usually cut my butter in half-ish with oil) and flour.  This amount depends on how big of a batch you’re making.  And often I brown the butter first before adding the flour.  This just deepens the butter flavor.

You whisk in HOT milky liquid of choice (Consider canned, evaporated milk as a really rich and creamy, but lighter substitute for half&half and cream.)

You add in shredded cheeses of choice (Always, always use an extra sharp cheddar in the mix and always, always include a really melty one like monterey jack or havarti or muenster (more flavor than mozz).  It can be white or yellow or a mixture of it all.  Just play around to see what mix works best for you.)

You check for seasoning, adjusting the salt level to your liking, and you add some dijon mustard.  You always dijon mustard.

You stir in your cooked pasta.

You either eat it as is- considered a Stovetop Mac n Cheese, extra creamy and goopy…

…Ooey and gooey…

Or you pour it into a greased casserole dish and top it with more cheese and breadcrumbs and bake it until its bubbly and brown and crispy on top.

That’s the mac n cheese I was raised on.  The baked kind.  So it’s my favorite.  But you do what you want!

This is a dish that’s supposed to make you happy.  It’s one of the most comforting things in the culinary world.  And tonight we’re having it with my equally as comforting Roast Chicken.  Because we need an extra dose of comfort this week.

I’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy day.  Call that person you love and tell them so right now.  Hug your children.  Look into the eyes of your spouse and tell them they mean the world to you.  Surprise someone with something small.  Tell a stranger their hair looks good.  Just seize the opportunity you have right now to do something wonderful and meaningful.  Because life is precious.  And life is beautiful.

XO

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