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Dec 22, 2012 04:07 AM

Macaroni and Cheese

I am making a baked version which recommends you undercook the pasta, how much do you usually undercook the pasta? I usually test until al dente which usually coincides with the 8 minutes suggested time on the package, so would 2 or 3 minutes be too undercooked?

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  1. Don't go too far from al don't want it hard in the center. Just a minute or so should do it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jmcarthur8

      I second this. Just a minute or two tops, where it's still edible, but if you were going to eat it right away, you'd probably cook it a minute longer. (And I make TERRIFIC mac & cheese in all sorts of variations all the time. It's one of my husband's favorites.)

    2. It depends on the recipe, how hot the oven is and how long you cook it for in the oven. I usually cook about 3/4 of the way which is about what you're suggesting.

      1. I disagree with al dente for mac&cheese. This is a dish that can easily dry out too much when baked and later, when leftovers are reheated. If anything, I'd OVERcook the pasta by a couple of minutes in hopes that it will absorb a little less of the cheese sauce. If you have al dente pasta, I would aim for a soupy sauce, using extra milk, when making a baked version. If your main reason for baking is the crunchy top, you can brown bread crumbs in butter in a frying pan, then scatter them atop stovetop mac&cheese..

        2 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          Oh wow, I've never heard that before but then again I'm basically a novice, perhaps moderate level cook. It was always explained to me that you undercook so that the pasta does not get soggy as it absorbs sauce. If you overcooked, wouldn't it get soggy over time? Also, I'm not necessarily baking for a crispy crust, rather I prefer baked macaroni and cheese style-the more cut macaroni.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            You might want to look at this recipe:

            It starts with half cooked pasta and all other ingredients cold. I've made it numerous times--incredible dish.