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I made the best mac and cheese of my life last night!

Isn't it funny how you can make a recipe a million times and then one time you do a few things different and suddenly it's so much better?

This is what happened to me last night with Alton's stovetop mac and cheese. We were craving comfort food and I had a lot of leftover cheese from the holiday. I think a few key ingredient changes made all the difference. Here's what I did:

1 lb of macaroni (I love cheese but I've always felt Alton's recipe didn't have enough pasta to cheese, he uses 1/2lb)
4 T butter
2 eggs
6 oz of heavy cream
1/2 t of hot sauce
1 t of salt (I found this fantastic sea salt that comes with garlic, rosemary, thyme all crushed into it)
3/4 t dijon mustard
10 oz of sharp cheddar
handful or two of gorgonzola
black pepper to taste

boil the pasta with a handful of salt. In a seperate bowl whisk the eggs, cream, hot sauce, salt, and dijon. when the past is down, drain and add the butter, temper in the egg mix and then add the cheese and turn heat on low if needed to melt. Keep stirring until it's melted and smooth.

I think the dijon instead of powdered mustard, cream instead of evaporated milk (i think half and half would work too), and that handful or two of gorgonzola made all the difference. I added just enough gorgonzola to give a tiny zing, but not enough so you could actually name the flavor. The gorgonzola definitely brings that sharp edge back to the cheese - I think even good sharp cheddar sometimes gets flat once melted. Honestly, best I've made and best I've had in a long time.

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  1. Thanks for this. A question though --why the eggs? What do they add to this dish?

    1 Reply
    1. re: twentyoystahs

      the eggs are going to help thicken the sauce like in a custard? That's my best guess.

    2. Using eggs and cream (or evaporated milk) is an alternative to using bechamel (basic white sauce of butter, flour and milk).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Grubbjunkie

        That's what the C.I. version has--eggs and evaporated milk. It's creamy but I still prefer the white/cheese sauce and bake method.

      2. Mmmmm, thanks. I just printed it. Though is it all done on the stove top or do you bake it afterwards?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Meg

          I do it all on the stovetop. To date, I haven't found a baked version that I like as well as a good stovetop version. I've tried lot's of baked versions (including Alton's and C.I.'s) and they always come out just slightly less creamy. I like a really creamy mac&cheese. Let me know how it goes for you when you make it!

          One thing I forgot to say is that if you are going to add gorgonzola, put in a couple of tablespoons, stir until melted, taste it - add more if you want a bit more. I ended up using about 3-4 Tablespoons of crumbled gorgonzola.

        2. I love Alton's recipe... and you are absolutely right about the amount of Pasta he asks for... at 1/2 it's like cheese soup with Pasta... SO likes LOTS of cheese, but that's too much, so I fudge it a bit and add 2/3lb...

          --Dommy!

          1. Looks good and rich and flavorful and well balanced, but about that "handful of salt?"

            5 Replies
            1. re: yayadave

              In the pasta water? Not a proponent of that? Especially since I use whole wheat pasta, it makes a big difference in the flavor. I'm talking like a good heavy-handed tablespoon - like the size of my palm if it were laid flat - not like a tennis ball or anything.

                1. re: krissywats

                  Krissywats, what brand of whole wheat pasta do you use? I've tried one (Bionatura? from the co-op) that tasted like wet cardboard. Would love to get a pointer to some GOOD ww macaroni!

                  Thanks,
                  Anne

                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    oh boy - well, i hope this doesn't make you lose respect but I like bionature! Did you try it with salt in the water? I think that makes a big difference. I've tried lot's of dried whole wheat pastas and they are my fav. Sorry I couldn't be more help...

                    1. re: krissywats

                      Maybe it wasn't Bionature that I tried. In fact, it probably wasn't. I'm probably mixing up my don't-buy-again and try-this-someday lists - The Best Recipe Light lists their favorite ww pasta, which I've tried to commit to memory so that I recognize it in the store (it might well have been Bionature...) My memory is notoriously faulty.

                      I trust your tastebuds, so I'll give Bionature a try.

                      Thanks!

                      Anne