HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  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

              1. I still like Martha Stewart's. Despite her "I'm more perfect than you" aura, she does have good recipes.

                I made it with antique gruyere and black diamond cheddar, and it was *GOOD*.

                1. I also like it creamy but to me, it's not a proper mac n' cheese unless it's finished in the oven and browned, preferably with a mixture of cheese and bread crumbs on top. I don't know Alton's recipe but his ratio might make sense if it's baked, because you can lose a lot of moisture in the oven.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Grubbjunkie

                    Ditto! Crispy crust is absolutely required!

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      You CAN get a crisp crust with this recipe... All you have to do is mix crumbs (I like panko) in melted butter and whatever herbs you like. Then put the finished CREAMY Mac N Cheese in a oven proof dish. Spread breadcrumbs on top and place it in the broiler for a minute or two... We HAVE to have it this way... :)

                      --Dommy!

                    2. re: Grubbjunkie

                      No, I wish that were it - this is specifically a stove top recipe. He has another recipe in the same episode for his ovenbaked version.

                    3. krissy, great recipe, and your mention of the gorgonzola element makes perfect sense.

                      i am prompted to quote a CH who responded to my posted recipe for a WICKED rich polenta .the poster suggested that one include some green herbs "to serve as tracer elements to help the investigating doctors when they are looking for the cause of the cardiac arrest"!!! hahaha; isn't that hysterical!
                      i thought you might like that!

                      1. Yum! I want to try this....I've always done the Joy of Cooking cheese sauce and bake version.

                        Question ......what does heavy cream mean? Half and half?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shazzer65

                          Heavy cream means whipping cream, not half-and-half.

                        2. Thanks Brian! You've settled one of the mysteries of my life.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: shazzer65

                            since this is a question of your whole life!, i need to tell you that whipping cream is actually MEDIUM cream; heavy cream has even more fat. half and half is named that because it is supposedly the fat content of 1/2 whole milk and 1/2 light cream.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              Manufacturing Cream has 33% to 42 % butterfat. Heavy cream is about 31% butterfat. On the westcoast, Smart and Final sells manufacturing cream.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                Thanks for the clarification! Wish the other mysteries of my life were as simple to understand...;)