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Amazing Mac and Cheese recipe anyone?

Please help- want to wow my guests at an outdoor party.

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  1. I know he gets some grief around here occasionally, but as anyone who's actually dined at his restaurants can tell you, Emeril can damn-well cook. This is one of his mac and cheese recipes that I've tried and really like. It's a little odd, in that there are tater tots in it (?), but don't knock the concept until you try it. BTW, I like to add some tabasco to taste; brightens the whole thing up a bit.

    2 teaspoons butter
    2 eggs
    2 cups whole milk
    Salt and white pepper
    2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
    2 cups grated White Cheddar cheese
    1 cup ham, diced
    2 pound bag tater tots, thawed

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 9 by 2-inch square baking dish with the butter. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese, 1 cup of the White Cheddar cheese, the ham and the tater tots. Mix the mixture thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Bostonbob3

      Wow, that sounds, well, horrible!

      1. re: budlit

        It's actually very tasty. Really.

        But I agree that it certainly sounds horrible.

      2. re: Bostonbob3

        Not trying to be snide, I promise :)....but does it have macaroni, or any pasta, in it?

        1. re: 4Snisl

          Holy (missing) macaroni! Forgot that "minor" ingredient.


          Yeah, it has a half a pound of elbow macaroni.

          I'm turning a bright shade of red right now.

          Here's another fav Emeril mac and cheese recipe in thanks, 4Snisl.

          9 tablespoons unsalted butter
          1/2 pound elbow macaroni
          1 pound homemade-style spicy pork sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
          1 cup chopped yellow onions
          1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
          1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
          4 teaspoons minced garlic
          1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
          1/2 cup all-purpose flour
          3 cups whole milk
          1 teaspoon salt
          1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
          1/8 teaspoon cayenne
          3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
          1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs

          Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
          Butter a large casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

          Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.

          In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onions, bell peppers, and 1 teaspoon of the Essence, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and anise seeds, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

          Melt the remaining stick of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until thick, 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles, cooked sausage and vegetables, and stir well to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

          In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of cheese with the breadcrumbs and remaining 2 teaspoons of Essence. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

          Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

          Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
          2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
          2 tablespoons salt
          2 tablespoons garlic powder
          1 tablespoon black pepper
          1 tablespoon onion powder
          1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
          1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
          1 tablespoon dried thyme

          Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

        2. re: Bostonbob3

          A friend of mine from Georgia is always talking about some tater tot casserole that she makes quite often. Not sure if the addition of tater tots is a Southern thing that I as a Yankee gall just don't get or what!

          1. re: vermontpoet

            I have a friend from Alabama who makes a tater tot casserole - tater tots, cooked ground beef, cream of mushroom soup - all stirred together, topped with shredded cheese and baked. I've had it and thought it kind of bland, but I imagine that it could be modified with a homemade mushroom/cream sauce, some onions, maybe some frozen petite peas - and a couple dashes of Tobasco. The recipe strikes me as being flexible and a decent starter for a one-dish meal.

        3. This has become my "go-to" recipe for Mac & Cheese.

          Over-the-Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese
          Recipe created by Patti LaBelle

          1 tablespoon vegetable oil
          1 pound elbow macaroni
          8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
          1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese (I use domestic; it's milder)
          1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
          1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
          1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
          2 cups half-and-half
          1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta, cut into small cubes
          2 large eggs, lightly beaten
          1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
          1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

          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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: grampart

            The Patti Labelle recipe is excellent. It will be a huge hit.
            Haven't tried Emerils recipe, but I have dined in his restaurants. I have to say the food was excellent at the 2 places I have been to in NO.

            1. re: grampart

              I make a version of this one, with these small changes:

              make a roux first, with butter and flour. Add a tsp of dry mustard and a Tbsp of chili powder. Cook the roux for five minutes, or until it loses that flour taste. Then cut the roux with beer- like a Newcastle, or other brown but not bitter brew. Alternate the cheese and the milk (you'll need less than called for in the recipe if you've used the beer) in 1/3 cup or so increments. When the sauce is smooth and creamy, add the cooked noodles. Then top with buttered, toasted panko and put in the oven.

              If I feel like it, I will saute onions first, and make the roux on top of them.

              Also, crumble chevre at the last minute, and stir it in gently. Yummy chevre bombs!!

              Another dress it up technique? Truffle oil!!

            2. I made the Mac and Cheese from America's Test Kitchen for July 4th. It was a huge hit by kids and adults. I think the biggest difference was they use evaporated milk and eggs, made the texture so much creamier. This will be my goto recipe for m/c since you can do it baked or not and everybody wanted a copy of it.

              This links to a recipe I have been dying to try, many rave reviews. http://www.whatwereeating.com/recipes...

              4 Replies
              1. re: mbfergie

                I haven't tried the recipes, but the dishes shown on Bobby Flay's Mac & Cheese Throwdown episode looked good:


                1. re: markabauman

                  I saw that too. His "opponent" gets Best of Philly for her mac and cheese alot. I can't think of her name... Delilah? Anyway, it looked good!

                  1. re: cjc519

                    Delilah is correct, she has a restaurant in the Reading Terminal Market and also got Best Mac and Cheese from Oprah

                2. re: mbfergie

                  I love the Cook's Illustrated one too. My husband begs for it.

                3. Don't know if it qualifies as amazing but I like this version a lot.

                  Adapt the quantities of the ingredients to suit the volume of mac and cheese you want to make.

                  Add butter to saucepan. Sautee chopped onions, garlic and jalapeno until soft. Add lean or extra lean ground beef and brown. Add salt to taste. Add flour in an equal amount to the amount of butter initially used. Stir to coat the beef mixture. Slowly add and incorporate milk (or heavy cream if your arteries are running free and clear) until your reach the consistency of a thick pea soup. Add as much grated sharp cheddar as you like and incorporate. Once the mixture is at your desired consistency remove pan from heat. Cook elbow pasta simultaneously with preparing mixture. Drain pasta and mix everything in a large casserole. Serve as is or broil in the oven to get a nice crust. Break out the spoons and enjoy.

                  1. I think the addition of freshly grated nutmeg would change all of these concoctions from the ridiculous to the sublime (just joking!). The truth is, I haven't been slender enough to chow down on macaroni and cheese for a whole generation. If I did, though, I'd do an Alfredo version with ricotta, parmesan, and nutmeg.

                    1. I'm a big fan of the bahamian style. basically use one of the recipes with condensed milk and eggs (I use FF condensed, egg beaters and a mix of FF and low-fat cheeses when I do it for myself. For company, I do about half 2% cheeses and half the good stuff)

                      Stir in chopped celery, white onion and jalapenos. Coat top with cheese and bake until crispy. I like the sides and bottom almost burnt.

                      It is nearly cakelike and has a little kick. Its super-good cold the next day, too.

                      1. I have tried Martha Stewart's recipe from http://www.marthastewart.com.
                        You can go there do a search for macaroni and cheese It was okay but I think I would try to make others. Have a look anyway.

                        1. Here's my favorite. Three personal twists:

                          1. I use fusilli instead of elbow macaroni. Love the way the sauce just tucks into the spirals instead of creating any puddles.
                          2. Recipe simply says "white cheddar." I always use extra sharp.
                          3. Do what Amanita says, and add some freshly grated nutmeg.

                          The gorgonzola's important, I think. There's enough of it to strike a distinct background note, but not so much it screams "gorgonzola."


                          1. I just ate dinner at Blue Smoke in Manhattan last night. The waitress touted the mac and cheese - it apparently won some local competition. And she was right. The stuff was fabulous. I'd love their recipe or a close approximation if anyone knows it!

                              1. re: oaklandfoodie

                                Coincidentally, I just made this one yesterday! It's pretty close to my usual technique (made by winging, without a recipe). I had just two small quibbles with it:

                                -- It uses all cheddar. Cheddar doesn't actually melt all that well, esp. as you're going to cool and reheat, which we always do since we make plenty of extra. An all-cheddar sauce has the danger of becoming grainy, so I always use a mix of cheddar and some softer meltier cheese, like fontina. (I hate to say it, but the reason why the Patti LaBelle recipe stays so nice and creamy, other than the half and half, is the velveeta!)

                                – I found that it didn't make quite enough sauce for our taste! We like a creamy, saucy mac 'n cheese, rather than one that absorbs all the liquid. I would have upped it to 4 cups of milk per 1/2 lb of pasta (might be a little left over, but that's better than not enough) I like enough sauce for there to be a molten scoop of creamy sauce when you dig in, like Fred 62's amazing mac 'n cheese in LA :)

                                1. re: another_adam

                                  thanks for that tip - I'm going to try using fotina with my cheddar next time!

                                  1. re: oaklandfoodie

                                    I've never had problems melting cheddar. Make a béchamel and add cheddar to it and mac's your uncle.

                                    1. re: mrbozo

                                      It works OK for serving immediately, but if it heats too long in the oven, or if you let it cool and reheat, I find that it can get oilier/grainier/?? with more cheddar. I might just use cheddars that are too sharp and dry, though.

                              2. I have used James Beard's macaroni and cheese recipe for over 20 years. It is our family and friends' gold standard. You can substitute skim milk for both the heavy cream and milk and use low fat chedder cheese without sacrificing flavor.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: veggielover

                                  Here's a good recipe for traditional Barbados macaroni pie. i found it on a bag of macaroni I bought in a grocery store in Barbados (where else?).

                                  300 grams uncooked macaroni, 1 tbsp. mustard
                                  8 oz. cheddar, grated , salt and pepper
                                  2 eggs, 1 cup chopped onions
                                  2 cups milk

                                  Cook macaroni until done. Mix together eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Place 1/3 of the macaroni in a greased casserole. Sprinkle with cheese, then add 1/3 of the onions. Repeat this process making three layers, ending with cheese and onions on top layer. Pour milk and egg mixture over, and bake at 1 hour at 350o.

                                2. Here's my recipe. A little sour cream never hurts anything does it? Replace some of the cheddar with fontina to make it nice and creamy.

                                  2 cups elbow macaroni -- uncooked
                                  1/2 cup butter
                                  1/2 cup flour
                                  1 3/4 cups milk
                                  1 cup sour cream
                                  1/4 cup parmesan cheese -- grated
                                  1/2 teaspoon salt
                                  1/2 teaspoon pepper
                                  1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
                                  2 cups sharp cheddar cheese -- grated

                                  Preheat oven to 350.

                                  Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Pour into 2 quart baking dish.

                                  In saucepan melt butter and stir in flour. Cook and stir 1 minute. Gradually stir in milk. Add sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and mustard. cook over medium low heat stirring constantly, until sauce bubbles and thickens. Stir in the cheddar cheese until melted.

                                  Pour sauce over macaroni and mix.

                                  Bake uncovered for 1 hour or until bubbly and brown.

                                  1. If your guests can handle a little heat, I love the addition of a small amount of chopped chipotle in adobo- for an 8-serving batch, I'd add about 1/2 of a chopped chipotle plus a tablespoon of adobo.

                                    I always add a tiny bit of hot sauce to my bechamel for mac & cheese, but you could just add a few shakes of Tabasco's Chipotle hot sauce for a similar effect. Or, for the smokiness without the heat, some smoked paprika is nice (Maybe a teaspoon for an 8-serving batch).

                                    1. Some of the BEST mac and cheese I ever ate had cream of wheat mixed in with all the other ingredients. (Not too much, but just the right amount). The cream of wheat allows the preparation to firm up a bit and keeps the mac and cheese from crumbling apart when you serve it. Absolutely delicious.

                                      1. My favorite is Ina's (Barefoot Contessa) you can get it on foodtv.com
                                        I use cavatappi pasta if I can find it. and this board advised me to add cream cheese to keep sauce from separating. A mac and cheese to be proud of!! (I add about 1/2 a large pkg but it's flexible.)

                                        1. Dang.. it's 4:00 am in the morning (I have terminal insomnia), otherwise I'd wake up our housekeeper. She makes a great mac and cheese. As far as I know, she just boils the elbow macaroni (sometimes she uses small shells) as per package directions (although just a little undercooked). At the same time, she melts some butter in a saucepan, adds a bit of flour to make a white roux, then slowly stirs in milk (1%) until thickened. She then adds grated cheddar (usually medium, since the kids prefer it), and stirs until melted.

                                          The pasta goes into a greased casserole, the sauce is poured over top, and into the oven it goes - sorry, don't know how long or how hot - and in the last few minutes, a
                                          handful of cheese is topped on the top.

                                          But here's the kicker - she also makes this fantastic salsa to serve over top. She combines coarsely chopped tomato, finely chopped onion and garlic, white vinegar, and a hint of balsamic vinegar, and chopped cilantro. The sharpness of this salsa contrasts so nicely with the creaminess of the mac and cheese, your guests will love it. If you can wait until this evening, I'll try to finagle the recipe out of her, and post if for you.

                                          1. We love Alton Brown's mac recipes from Food Network.com. I've tried both of his two variations, baked or top of the stove and they are easy and delicious. The only variation I make is to use whole wheat elbows and low fat cheese. That way I can pretend I'm eating something less damaging to my chow-body. It's one of the things my (grown-up and grand) kids request.