Killer Macaroni & Cheese Recipe?
I've got a taste for good old, made from scratch, macaroni and cheese. My grandmother used Velveeta, cream, and butter to make hers. Delicious but I'm hoping for something a little different.
I've tried a few different recipes and just haven't found a good recipe for yummy, gooey, cheesey macaroni and cheese. I've had a dry version that while interesting wasn't macaroni and cheese, too many that add so many extra ingredients the dish needed a different name (onions, mushrooms, peppers, ham bits, etc...).
Is there a recipe for down home macaroni and cheese that isn't too exotic (no blue cheese or soy sauce or anything like that) ou thtere that brings back memories of one's childhood that anyone would care to clue me in on?
re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)
I found the Thorne/CI recipe to be tasty but absolute overkill in richness/ quantity of cheese used. Much prefer the more austere, less fussy and somewhat milky mac and cheese of my youth - cooked elbow mac, layered with 2-3 C of shredded colby or cheddar, ending with a cheese sprinkle; salt and pepper then 1-2 C of scalded milk poured over all; bake until golden and crusty on top and milk absorbed (this is baked in a pyrex casserole, natch). Finis. Good fried leftovers too.
re: jen kalb
The Thorne/CI manipulated version is a pretty good, recipe for "simple" mac'n cheese which also allows room for some personal interpretation. I have no idea how 1/4 teaspoon of hot pepper sauce could actually enhance the flavor of 1 pound of pasta plus 12 ounces of cheese and a couple of eggs and a can of condensed evaporated milk, so that certainly needs some adjusting. Can you even measure a 1/4 t of a liquid???
a couple of suggestions:
it is easier to make it on the stovetop(rather than removing a baking vessel from the oven and stirring every 5 minutes)then simply put it in a serving vessel sprinkle with crumbs and brown for a minute.
I also don't think that standard sized elbow macaroni allows for a sufficient amount of cheese/sauce intake into the pasta, I usually opt for something with slightly larger openings(tortiglioni by Delverde is a favorite).
The condensed evaporated milk helps maintain the silkiness of the sauce(as long as you don't scramble the eggs)
I like to use a blend of cheddar and american(gives it a little sharpness with added creaminess from the american).
And total agreement with the previous post that leftover fried mac' n cheese ROCKS!!!
Cheese on oh humble one!
I have to agree that the Cook's Illustrated version is excellent. After making that version, I absolutely favor my "mac" when made with evaporated milk and eggs, as opposed to a starch-thickened bechamel, which really dulls the flavor and texture of the sauce.
Another very good version is Patti LaBelle's, which includes cubes of Velveeta that melt as it's baked. You can find that recipe on the web if you do a search on Google.
Finally, there is a very good book on the subject, "Macaroni & Cheese", by Joan Schwartz. It features many variations on the basic theme, most of which are classic and not too outlandish.
re: Tom Meg
"Here's a link to John Thorne's recipe, upon which Cook's Illustrated's is based. I can't go back to bechamel-type recipes after trying this one."
I want to try this -- but...
Is this recipe correct when it says to use 1/2 lb of pasta? That doesn't sound like nearly enough. Is it a typo?
Won't 1/2 pound of pasta just be SWIMMING in an entire pound of cheese?
re: Doug Mose
While it is amazing, I don't think this is what the poster is going for.
On one of my few forrays into cooking, I made this for some mac and cheese loving friends. They gushed.
But if you are expecting the gooey deep yellow Velveta type dish, this isn't it. Worth it, but different expectations.
Believe it or not, just go to your grocery freezer section and buy a Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese. It's not like Martha Stewart's with her Gruyere and Romano cheese mix, but it's good, down-home, gooey, and cheesy elbow macaroni. They also serve it from the deli section at Ralph's grocery store. It's really good.
Also, for a quick fix - for one or two, I use 4 oz. cream cheese with 1 Cup of grated sharp cheddar (Cheshire if you can find it) melted together with the help of a little chicken broth. Add some butter (about 2 Tablespoons). Add some salt. Pour it over the elbow macaroni. If you want to take more time, you can sprinkle bread crumbs on top and bake it, but, - this is just for a quickie.
There are soo many recipies for mac and cheese, it may take you a while to find your favorite. Stouffer's is right up there in the simple and good category.
This is more a "Penne in cheese sauce" but it is easy, and really, really good. I've never written a recipe out like this before, but I'll give it a shot. ;)
1 lb box penne pasta, cooked.
3 Tbsp unsalted Butter
3 Tbsp Flour
1 1/2 Cup Milk
4 Cups shredded cheese (I actually use the pre-shredded stuff. I use 2 bags of Sargento 6 Cheese Italian blend, but anything would work, and thats a decent mix that is easy to use. You could just as easily substitute any other cheese)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
In a saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour, and whisk until they're incorporated.
Add the milk, and simmer/whisk over low heat until it is fairly thick. (About the consistancy of pancake batter, maybe a tad thinner.)
Mix in 3 cups of the shredded cheese, until it is melted into the sauce and add salt and pepper, if desired.
Lightly coat the bottom of a 13x9 pyrex pan with the sauce.
Add about half of the pasta to the pan, and pour 1/2 of the cheese sauce over it, spreading the cheese evenly over the pasta.
Add the rest of the pasta/sauce, again making sure pasta and sauce are evenly distributed.
Top with the remaining cup of cheese (and maybe a little salt/pepper/parmesean cheese)
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and bake for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, until sauce is bubbly, and the cheese topping is golden brown.
Let cool for 5 minutes.
If it comes out right, it should be able to be cut in squares, and hold its shape, similar to a lasagne or baked ziti.