Mac and Cheese

Posted by on Apr 26, 2011 in Appetizer, Pastas and Sides, Featured, Step by Step Recipes | 0 comments

Mac and Cheese
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Super Easy Mac & Cheesy Mac….

This is one of my favorite recipes, and I’ve never really written it down.

I like this dish because it is so versatile, meaning it can be served to pretty much any guest in a number of atmospheres, although it probably tastes best off a paper plate.

I don’t use any low fat or fat free ingredients, as it changes the way the sauce comes out. I always subscribe to the theory that the best way to make a dish healthier is make the portion smaller or serve a salad, otherwise make it fatty and the real way.

For fancier guests, one of the things you can do is to substitute the hot dog for Pancetta, and the good old cheddar cheese for fancier imported cheeses like Fontana and other tough to spell Cheeses. I like Cheddar b/c Sharp White and Yellow Cheddar melt well, and impart a great semi-sharp taste. I once had a Mac and Cheese with four types of foreign cheeses and truffle oil and it just wasn’t right. It missed soul. This, in essence is a soul dish.

It takes time, but once you make it right, you can always make it. It’s an easy dish to make, inexpensive, and it travels well, freezes great and your kids will love it, although they don’t know that yet..

What you will need:

-Box of Elbow Macaroni

-Chopped Hot Dogs.. Cut the hot dog in half, then slice into half circles about finger thick.

-1 large bag of Shredded white Cheddar (Sharp )

-1 large bag of Shredded Yellow Cheddar

-One Stick of un-salted Butter

-Whole Milk

-Unseasoned Bread Crumbs

-All Purpose flour

Tools:

-Baking Dish (Glass or Aluminum)

-Wisk

-Justin Bieber

Start by boiling your Macaroni in salted water with a touch of Olive Oil in the water. You should always boil your ‘dried’ pastas this way. The salt increases the water temperature, as salt water boils hotter and the Olive Oil keeps the noodles from sticking together. Once the Macs are almost cooked, keep them al Dente so they don’t get mushy when you continue to cook them in the sauce.

Set the Mac aside after draining in the baking dish…..I don’t drain my pasta 100% dry…I like a touch of the cooking water, which has starch in it from the flour, which in turn thickens my sauces…especially in Mac and cheese.

Turn down the Heat from High to Medium High…you will stay at this temperature In the same pot that you once had the Mac cooking in (why make 2 pots dirty)…melt one finger thick of the butter..this is how I measure things….basically look at a stick of butter and measure one finger thickness across….also known as a tablespoon or a pat of butter…melt that down on Medium-High heat and then add the chopped hot dog…let that brown a bit..

Hot dog is already cooked so don’t worry about cooking through….take a spoon and remove the hot dog pieces and set aside but leave the melted butter and the hot dog juices at the bottom…that is the smoke flavor that makes our Mac and Cheese (yes, now its our Mac and cheese) tastes better than the box stuff.

At this point you have a hot pot with butter and hot dog juices sitting on high heat…now time to make the ‘roux’, which is the base of all fancy sauces…once you make a ‘roux’, you can make any sauce/gravy you have eaten.
The Roux…..Melt 1/2 stick of unsalted butter until it starts to bubble (not smoke)….once you get bubbles add 1/4 cup of white all purpose flour to the mix and start to Wisk immediately….your goal is to keep whisking until the flour absorbs all the butter and it turns into a paste….don’t allow to burn….keep stirring until the flour starts to turn light yellow maybe the color of a manila folder…when that happens it has become a “Blond Roux”…from here you can make over 100 sauces….we will make what is known as a Béchamel….Which is a Cheese Sauce made with Milk, Cheese and Roux (Cooked flour and Browned butter)… Add 2 cups of milk slowly so you don’t get splattered….it will froth and hopefully you are still using the deep pot you once made the macaroni in…the milk and the roux will form a thick paste, keep stirring and it will become a nice consistency (Elmer’s Glue)..takes about one minutes on Medium High Heat heat…now add half (1/2) bag of each of the cheeses…

Remove from heat and allow the cheeses to melt into the béchamel sauce….stir once in a while, add a little black pepper and taste it to see if it needs salt..You should have enough salt from the cheese, and the hot dog but maybe need a touch more…. Taste Again…Does it have a cheesy enough taste for you? Add more cheese if not. now you have a great cheese sauce, flavored by hot dog and ready to be mixed with your macaroni…

Almost done….mix the cheese sauce, browned pieces of hot dog and ‘al dente’ macaroni together….the macaroni will absorb a lot and it might seem dry…..if it does seem too dry…add a touch of milk and keep mixing..the ambient heat will bond the sauce and the Mac and hot dog….now put a few handfuls of the left over cheese on the bottom of the baking dish…and then place entire Mac and cheese mixture into the baking dish on top of the sprinkled cheese…

DO NOT PRESS DOWN THE MIXTURE….just spoon the mixture into the dish…otherwise it gets clumpy….Mac and cheese needs space to form the right consistency……now add the remaining bags of cheese on the top mixing the white and yellow for appearance….now would be the time to freeze….prior to the final bake…or if you plan on eating it without freezing….add breadcrumbs on top of the cheese….and a few (maybe 6) very thin slices of the butter on top of bread crumb….bake the whole thing at 375 until the top browns and the cheese and breadcrumb forms a crust…

It seems like a lot of steps…but they are worth it…if its easier…maybe re-write this recipe into direct steps like 1.. Blah Blah and 2..Blahh Balaha Blahh..that might be easier for you without my commentary..

Much Like Daniel-San..I have secretly taught you the skills to make a base for literally hundreds of sauces…The Roux…its the base of all things great….for more information on Roux, and French Mother Sauce’s Google: “Antoine Careme” “French Mother Sauces”…

Good luck and enjoy it…