Monday, March 1, 2010

Mac and Cheese


I recently said that Fried Chicken, Mac and Cheese and Biscuits is my favorite meal, and so after I made the chicken, I chose to revisit mac and cheese. I've always been happy with Alton Brown's recipe, but after a recent attempt, I find it rather one-note and not as interesting or enticing as I remembered. Maybe the cheddar wasn't good enough, I don't know, but from now on, I want a mac and cheese made with multiple cheeses; simple can be good, but if I'm going to go to the trouble of making it myself, it has to be more complex.

I'm also contemplating the ways I can get more flavor into it. Maybe steep the milk in thyme, sage and garlic before making the roux. Maybe when making the roux I brown the butter before adding the flour. I think that adding caramelized onions would heighten the complexity without going over the top, however I'm not sure whether bacon deserves a place in mac and cheese. Maybe to supplant that smoky flavor I use smoked cheese. Lastly, the mac and cheese must have a thick crispy crust, which means plenty of panko.
(cold mac and cheese fried in a hot skillet)

These are all things to play around with, but in the meantime, does anyone have a recipe they can swear by? Is Ina Garten's, Martha Stewart's, the Lee brothers' mac attack any good? E-mail me or drop a comment.

19 comments:

James said...

The fried mac looks like it could be an interesting canape.

I came up with some interesting ones in Jan: http://www.thecotswoldfoodyear.com/search/label/macaroni

Rather than the heavy roux sauce I liked the lightness of the thermidor.

There's some other really interesting takes here: http://thecheeselover.blogspot.com/2010/01/macncheese-challenge-best-original.html and here: http://thecheeselover.blogspot.com/search/label/macaroni%20cheese The manchego, chorizo and sherry version I really have to try. Noone's tried it with stinking bishop though - the UK's most smelliest cheese - that could possibly be the most tasty mac ever if the pie we added it to a few weeks ago is anything to go by. Ah, so much cheese, so little time.

Anonymous said...

I served the following recipe at a party and people loved it!

Some Real-Life Recipes From the Cast of 'Soul Food':

Vanessa Williams's (Teri Joseph's) Macaroni 'n Cheese
(6 to 8 generous servings)
2 tablespoons butter, plus butter for the casserole dish
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)
1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and then remove from the heat. Blend in flour, salt and mustard. Add milk and return to the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups of the Cheddar cheese and all of the Gouda and heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and combine with the cheese sauce in the prepared dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and paprika. Bake at 375 degrees about 25 minutes or until nicely browned and bubbly.

Anonymous said...

Here is a recipe that people loved at the last party I made it for:

Some Real-Life Recipes From the Cast of 'Soul Food':

Vanessa Williams's (Teri Joseph's) Macaroni 'n Cheese
(6 to 8 generous servings)
2 tablespoons butter, plus butter for the casserole dish
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)
1/2 cup shredded Gouda cheese
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and then remove from the heat. Blend in flour, salt and mustard. Add milk and return to the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups of the Cheddar cheese and all of the Gouda and heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and combine with the cheese sauce in the prepared dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, bread crumbs and paprika. Bake at 375 degrees about 25 minutes or until nicely browned and bubbly.

Elia said...

Hey Nick, I'n new to your blog, but wanted to share with you that my favorite recipe is Ina Garten's mac and cheese. I omit the tomatoes under the bread crumb crust. And I also have done the recipe using truffle butter instead of regular butter, both when making the roux and for the breadcrumbs on top. Needless to say it came out amazing!! Give it a try! Check out my blog, www.feedyoursister.blogspot.com. ENJOY! Best, Elia

Daniel King said...

Personally, I'm a huge fan of Ina's recipe. She uses 3 kinds of cheese to my recollection, including bleu cheese that adds a pleasant tangy quality.

In general I've had great luck with sharp cheddar, pepper jack, bleu cheese, and gruyere (though not all at once, ha!).

Kami said...

Hi, I'm a lurker who finally decided to break my silence for one of my favorite topics!

I consider myself a mac and cheese connoisseur and have tried many, many recipes. The best so far are Ina Garten's recipe (simple and delicious) and Bouchon cookbook (time consuming but ultra creamy.)

I can't wait to see what works best for you!

Anonymous said...

Patti LaBelle was on Oprah and made Mac N Cheese. Here's her recipe:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup butter PLUS"PLUS" means this ingredient in addition to the one on the next line, often with divided uses
1 tablespoon
1/2 cup shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups half & half
1 cup Velveeta, cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Anonymous said...

Here are the directions for Patti's Mac N Cheese:
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole.

Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot.

In a small saucepan, melt eight tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining one tablespoon of butter.

Bake until it's bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

798 calories, 49.3 grams of fat, 28.6 grams saturated fat, 202 mg cholesterol, 786 mg sodium, 61.0 grams carbohydrates, 27.7 grams protein, 1.8 grams fiber

Tanya Harrison said...

My family loves the recipe from America's Test Kitchen. It has sharp cheddar and colby cheeses and a dash of cayenne for heat.

El Pad said...

i like the crust on my mac to be cheese not breadcrumbs

sort of like baked ziti

Anonymous said...

Martha Stewarts creamy mac and cheese is perfection. Be careful it makes a TON, so I half it and still have leftovers

Anonymous said...

The first time I made mac and cheese, I followed Ina Garten's recipe which combines cheddar with Gruyere. WOW! The Gruyere was what did it for me. Its expensive, but it makes such a difference.

Luckygirl721 said...

I am in love with Ina Garten's mac and cheese! She combines Gruyere with the cheddar and its amazing! The Gruyere is pricey but mac and cheese is a "once-in-a-while" treat so it is totally worth it.

Jumper said...

While Justin Wilson was a cook more than a chef, when I tried his mac & cheese recipe with white wine, I knew I had a foundation one could build on. Note he too likes a bit of onion. It's a starting place, anyway.
http://groups.google.pn/group/rec.food.cooking/msg/b2f49dc8060c3591

Anonymous said...

mac and cheese, so good. I try to use about 3 - 4 different cheeses in my recipe, cheddar, gouda, colby, and if I'm feeling crazy velvetta or another processed cheese. My great grandmother would layer thinly sliced potatoes in the mac and it was awesome, I haven't mastered this yet, but when its right it's right.

C. said...

Ronald Reagan's Mac & Cheese from the white house cookbook. You can easily find the recipe online.

Nice basic recipe, a little subtle, so double the cheese(s) and make it work for you. Great start though, and have the pleasure of eating an improved version of a classic.

allen said...

Pasta and Company cookbook has my favorite recipe, also Splendid Table's 21st century mac n cheese is good with saltines crubled on top. Don't pimp up the milk with herbs and savory stuff, it should be mac n cheese, use good quality cheese and keep it simple. Texas champagne or smoked paprika on top is about as far as you'll want to go on jazzing it up and still call it mac n cheese.

Laura said...

I use a mix of gruyere, fontina and sharp cheddar (when I can) but I've also subbed in goat cheese, parmesan, gouda. And I always put some beer in the bechamel. Beer and some Worcestershire if I feel frisky.

Anonymous said...

leave it to martha--hers is over the top good!!