What? Has anybody else ever heard of this?
I was on line looking over various macaroni & cheese recipes when I came across a very old one dating back to Thomas Jefferson's time. The directions call for the pasta to be boiled in a combination of milk & water. I have never heard of pasta being boiled in anything except plain old salted water. Has anyone out there tried this milk method? What does the milk during the boiling process do for the pasta (if anything)?
If you watch it carefully to avoid this I don't see any reason why you should end up with something other than slightly-richer/more dairy-flavored noodles. They'll just absorb some of the milk, right? There seem to be a lot of recipes for mac and cheese out there that use the starch-thickened milk left after cooking as a base for the cheese sauce. Seems like a decent idea.
I have heard of this but I have not tried it. I read that when you boil the pasta in the milk and water it adds starch to the water/milk so it can be used as a base for the cheese sauce.
Why not? There are plenty of recipes (and products) for making pasta dishes with unboiled pasta. Someplace on CH someone once posted a recipe for mac& cheese that just combined the milk, cheese, and uncooked pasta, then baked it.
Makes sense to me to use the amount of water that will be absorbed by the pasta, and once the macaroni is tender, stir the cheese into it and the remaining liquid. In Jefferson's time, boiling may have been a good way to use up spoiling milk.
I've seen modern recipes for this, but they don't call for both water and milk, and they don't drain all of the milk after cooking.
I remember seeing one online last year which went something like this:
Boil pasta in whole milk until almost done.
Turn off heat.
Add in cheese/s, butter, salt, mustard powder, etc. and stir until fully melted.
Pour into buttered casserole dish and cover with foil.
The photos didn't look quite as creamy as a traditionally made mac and cheese (no flour/roux to thicken), but it looked easy enough for someone who's busy.
I think the idea is to get the pasta going in milk to absorb some of it, then in the oven it will absorb the remainder.
The Barilla recipe calls for 1) making a roux, 2) adding milk and bringing to a boil, 3) adding the pasta and cooking it, 4) removing from the heat and adding the cheese.*
Pretty simple and works well. You still dress it up by choice of pasta and cheese(s).
*Hope I didn't forget any steps.
I'd bet that in TJ's time the raw milk was much richer and thicker than what we get today, so they would probably have had to thin it with water to cook with it.