My Mac-n-Cheese Game

Once in awhile I concoct a recipe worthy of recommending people put their books down for a few minutes and cook. This summer as I'm able to spend more time in the kitchen I might stick a few more recipes up here- expect some ice cream ones for sure. 

I've spent several years working on my Mac-n-Cheese Game. I've tried different cheese, different ratios of milk, different recipes for rouxs, various spices, an assortment of toppings, etc... I've used recipes from old cook books, new cook books, and blogs. And this one is what I've landed on.

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
a pinch of salt
a few grinds of pepper
1 tsp onion powder
2 cups of cheese* (reserve 2 tbsp if you plan to do the topping)
2 cups of milk**
A box of pasta (a pound?? whatever they are)
2 tbsp of mild buffalo sauce (optional)

1/4 cup of green onions 
1 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (seasoned is preferable) 
2 tbsp cup of cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put on water to boil pasta; I'll assume you can handle that process without instruction. Cook to al dente, or whatever you like. 

2. To create the roux turn the burner to medium and melt the butter. As the butter melts, whisk in the flour (don't wait until it's melted, add as it's melting). The mixture will get super thick- do not let it burn.

3. As your roux thickens, slowly whisk in your milk (you're making a bechamel sauce). Continue the process slowly, allowing the sauce to thicken. Once all the milk is in, continue to whisk and heat, but not boil.

4. While the bechamel is thickening, add in your spices. I like onion powder, but I've also used garlic, parsley, italian blends- whatever your preference is.

5. Once the sauce is hot and fairly thick, dump in all the cheese. Whisk. It might seem like the sauce will never come together, but after a few minute it will. If you like a thinner sauce, add some additional milk (this will also depend on the cheese you chose). After the cheese is basically melted I add some buffalo sauce for a little extra kick (and I hate wings, and I hate spicy things, but it works). If you choose, you can also add in chicken, sausage, etc...

6. Combine the drained pasta and sauce- stick the pot on low heat while you make the topping.

7. Melt the cube of butter until it's mostly melted. Mix together with cheese and bread crumbs. 

8. Put mac and cheese into an oven-safe casserole dish with lid or foil. Sprinkle topping on it and pop in the oven for twenty minutes. At the end broil for just a few minutes to get a crispy, brown finish on the topping. Sprinkle with green onions. 

*A note about cheese: I've used variations of all the big cheese, plus a few random ones. I advise against using mozzarella, personally, since it creates too think and stringy of a sauce and usually requires additional milk. If you plan on using a strong cheese, like blue, I'd use it in conjunction with something a bit more mild. My favorite tends to be colby or a super sharp cheddar. Whatever you do, do not use reduced fat, since it won't melt right. 

* A note about milk: I tend to use 1 cup of something super heavy, like whole or even whipping cream, and then 1 cup of just the regular 1% I have on hand. I've done recipes with all 1% and they work fine, they just aren't as rich and creamy. 

1 comment:

  1. This looks really good! I don't think I've ever had Mac & Cheese (and if I have, it wasn't memorable), so I am tempted to try this. It's just like a pasta bake...with cheese sauce!

    Is buffalo sauce just a spicy marinade/sauce? I'm sure I can find something to sub that for.