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Dec 15, 2013 07:22 AM

Is it still mac and cheese if... add other stuff to it? Silly question, I know. But of such things are snowy Sundays made.

I made mac and cheese last night, but I wanted more of a one dish meal, so I sauteed some onions, ham and broccoli and tossed that in with my mac. Used the same amount of cheese sauce and pasta as usual.

So is it mac and cheese? Or does it start to nudge into casserole territory?

BTW, I've been using sodium citrate for my mac and cheese lately, and this time I used beer for the liquid instead of milk or cream. Kind of awesome and still gloriously creamy without the fuss of making a bechamel or custard.

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  1. You can call it whatever you want, as long as it tastes good! How about Loaded Mac & Cheese (a nod to the beer as well as the extra ingredients)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChiGal1962

      It tasted awesome -- and I *love* the term!

    2. please talk to me about using beer instead of milk. sounds like a slam dunk for my beer-loving b/f. is the ratio a 1:1 sub?

      9 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Yes, I used all beer and no milk. I used about 1.5 cups of beer, 2 tsp of sodium citrate and maybe 3 or 4 cups of cheese. I just grated up the cheese in my fridge and didn't really measure. I find that with the sodium citrate approach, the sauce can be much thinner than with a bechamel or custard, as it thickens up quite a bit as it cools after baking. To the sauce I also added some dry mustard, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          What a great idea using beer instead of milk. I occasionally make a beer and cheddar fondue, just by heating beer, mixing grated cheese with a few tablespoons of flour, gradually adding the cheese into the beer and season with dry mustard, pepper, Worcestershire and cayenne. Could just dump that over pasta, bake until bubbly and call it mac and cheese. Thanks for the inspiration.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            I'm trying to understand this sodium citrate thing.
            I'm not aware of this as an ingredient.
            what is it? where do you get it? how do you use it in this case? and where did you get the idea to do it?

            1. re: femmevox

              Sodium citrate is an ingredient most often used in molecular gastronomy, but for the purposes of mac and cheese, it's an emulsifier and allows you to perfectly melt any cheese (as aged and hard as you'd like) into a gorgeous, creamy sauce that will never break. No need to make a bechamel or custard. So for my mac and cheese, I heat a liquid of my choice (water, milk, beer, etc.), dissolve a couple of teaspoons of sodium citrate, then whisk in grated cheese and any other seasonings. So easy and SO good.

              Here's an example where sodium citrate is used to make what are essentially velveeta cheese slices:


                  1. re: melpy

                    I Googled sodium citrate after reading this thread, and read that you can find it in the Kosher foods section of some supermarkets labeled as "sour salt," but you have to read the label to make sure you're not buying citric acid, which is occasionally also labeled as "sour salt" and wouldn't work the same way.

                    I intend to try this as well!

                  2. re: TorontoJo

                    There's a similar method that uses a thickener (xanthan gum or carrageenan), and you measure out the water and cook the pasta in the exact amount of water needed, along with a brick of your homemade "processed" cheese, which is great because you can use just about whatever cheese (combination) you want.


                    post by davis_sq_pro

                    I've made this, and it's fantastic.

            2. Sounds terrific!!

              I call my hangover Mac and Cheese with tuna and frozen peas "Mac and cheese."

              Unless you go off the grid crazy it still is.

              Beer! Yum!

              4 Replies
              1. re: C. Hamster

                +1 on the tuna and peas. I add crushed potato chips on top if I have any.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    OK - now you're in casserole/hotdish territory -- it's the crushed potato chips that move it to a new category ;-)

                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                      I don't think so -- lots of mac and cheese only has potato chips on top.

                      My son tops his with crushed cheezits and bacon.

              2. My new standard version is made with chipotle chilies and bacon. Unbelievably good!

                1. It's no longer "mac & cheese"

                  It's become "mac & cheese with onion, ham and broccoli"

                  Quite often we make "macaroni cheese with onion, courgettes and bacon"

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Harters

                    I do like the "loaded mac and cheese" moniker, as it covers all the bases.

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      "Loaded" is only just starting to be used in British English in this context, as our language becomes more Americanised (or, I suppose, that should be Americanized).

                      1. re: Harters

                        As in drunk or full of something? Which usage is new?