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Is it still mac and cheese if...

TorontoJo Dec 15, 2013 07:22 AM

...you 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. c
    ChiGal1962 RE: TorontoJo Dec 15, 2013 07:35 AM

    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
      TorontoJo RE: ChiGal1962 Dec 15, 2013 07:55 AM

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

    2. hotoynoodle RE: TorontoJo Dec 15, 2013 07:43 AM

      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
        TorontoJo RE: hotoynoodle Dec 15, 2013 07:59 AM

        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
          Springhaze2 RE: TorontoJo Dec 15, 2013 08:15 AM

          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
            femmevox RE: TorontoJo Dec 17, 2013 02:23 PM

            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
              TorontoJo RE: femmevox Dec 17, 2013 03:14 PM

              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: TorontoJo
                melpy RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 03:19 AM

                Wow! Where does one get this?

                1. re: melpy
                  gmm RE: melpy Dec 18, 2013 03:33 AM

                  You can get it from Amazon:

                  1. re: gmm
                    melpy RE: gmm Dec 18, 2013 08:06 AM

                    Just added to my wish list.

                  2. re: melpy
                    Big Bad Voodoo Lou RE: melpy Dec 18, 2013 06:39 AM

                    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!

                  3. re: TorontoJo
                    foreverhungry RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 04:43 PM

                    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. C. Hamster RE: TorontoJo Dec 15, 2013 03:29 PM

              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
                nlgardener RE: C. Hamster Dec 17, 2013 02:11 PM

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

                1. re: nlgardener
                  C. Hamster RE: nlgardener Dec 17, 2013 02:28 PM

                  Yes! Chips are awesome on top.

                  1. re: C. Hamster
                    MidwesternerTT RE: C. Hamster Dec 18, 2013 06:48 AM

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

                    1. re: MidwesternerTT
                      DebinIndiana RE: MidwesternerTT Dec 19, 2013 09:28 AM

                      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. BobB RE: TorontoJo Dec 17, 2013 01:47 PM

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

                1. h
                  Harters RE: TorontoJo Dec 17, 2013 02:14 PM

                  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
                    TorontoJo RE: Harters Dec 17, 2013 03:05 PM

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

                    1. re: TorontoJo
                      Harters RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 02:12 AM

                      "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
                        melpy RE: Harters Dec 18, 2013 03:20 AM

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

                  2. linguafood RE: TorontoJo Dec 17, 2013 02:26 PM

                    Sure it is. I always augmented my Kraft dinner with ground beef or chicken breast, red peppers, mushrooms and hot sauce.

                    's all good eatings.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: linguafood
                      TorontoJo RE: linguafood Dec 18, 2013 03:56 AM

                      I love that you call it Kraft dinner! For you non-Canadians out there, Kraft Dinner = Kraft Macaroni 'n Cheese. Same product, different branding.

                      1. re: TorontoJo
                        linguafood RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 07:57 AM

                        That's because my Canadian friend introduced me to it :-)

                        1. re: TorontoJo
                          Will Owen RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 04:31 PM

                          It used to be called that here in the US fifty or so years ago; it was my favorite from-the-box food (if you don't count Chef Boy-Ar-Dee spaghetti kits, which are also NLA) under that name and I still call it that. I have been known to make an impromptu tuna casserole with that stuff, if I want tuna and don't have either noodles or Cream of Mushroom soup.

                      2. hill food RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 02:41 AM

                        as long as it's good, you're not going to hell.

                        Pax Vobiscum.

                        1. Berheenia RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 04:25 AM

                          We call it French Mac and Cheese based on this recipe which we watched a French chef (Pierre Franey) make on TV. It's our house mac and cheese now.

                          1. c
                            ChiliDude RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 04:31 AM

                            I'm not a devotee of mac and cheese, but I like your creativity. I would enjoy tasting your version of the dish because it has the other ingredients in it.

                            Since my wife of 53 years is of Italian descent, I've seen enough pasta for 3 lifetimes. My DNA does not contain Italian genes. Mac and cheese is not on our menu...ever!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ChiliDude
                              melpy RE: ChiliDude Dec 18, 2013 08:08 AM

                              There is never enough pasta.
                              I could eat it three meals a day and never get bored.
                              However, I would get even fatter.

                            2. g
                              GutGrease RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 08:38 AM

                              Yup, loaded mac & cheese. It's been around since the caveman days.

                              There's always the fancy versions with bread crumbs on top. I'm a big fan of just adding cream cheese in addition to the regular cheese. It adds creaminess but also an extra layer of salt that makes the taste pop out.

                              Bacon, ham, vegetables....all fair in love and mac & cheese

                              1. g
                                gfr1111 RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 12:46 PM

                                Well, yes, but don't call it "mac and cheese" alone. This misleads people who may not want the added ingredients. Call it "Mac and Cheese with _______."

                                I hate it when I go into a restaurant and order "mac and cheese" or Caesar salad and get some fancified version without any warning. I might have wanted to order the fancified versions anyway, but advise me ahead time so that I can make the choice.

                                1. Chemicalkinetics RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 12:57 PM

                                  Sorry for being late to the party.

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

                                  To be honest, I think it really depends on the amount of onion, ham and broccoli you have. If they contribute a small amount to the entire dish, then it is still mac and cheese. If they become an important tasting experience, then I would say it is casserole.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    1sweetpea RE: Chemicalkinetics Dec 18, 2013 04:17 PM

                                    I've made mac and cheese from scratch and incorporated cauliflower florets, to make me feel less guilty about making a meal of it. It certainly still tastes like mac and cheese.

                                    I have a recipe from a vegetarian cookbook that is mac and cheese, but with cabbage, tomatoes, gruyere and fontina. This, to me, seems like a real stretch as "mac and cheese", but it sounds delicious nonetheless, and healthier than the noodles, cheese, butter, milk and flour standard.

                                  2. Will Owen RE: TorontoJo Dec 18, 2013 04:25 PM

                                    I've added everything from ham to hot dogs in mine; my favorite current version has a lot of chopped and sautéed onion and poblano pepper and de-juiced and chopped Roma tomato stirred into the sauce. Said sauce is just a 12 oz can of evaporated milk cooked down to about a cup, then a couple of kinds of cheese stirred in gently – most commonly sharp cheddar and Fontina, maybe 3/4 cup of each. Or more.

                                    Anyway, it's your kitchen and your dish. You could call it Charlie if you wanted to.

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