May 21, 2007
Macaroni N Cheese
This is a very common item at dinners around here. Bland, cheesy, spicy, creamy; any way you make it, it is sure to find some young and some not so young takers. It is one of the foolproof kid friendly recipes, made horribly commercialised and made synonymous with kid's meals. Check out the school and preschool menus here.
I used to buy the ready to make mac n cheese packets (powdered, microwaveable etc) and add milk and sliced cheese to it to mitigate its nutritional uselessness. Then I graduated to making it from scratch with elbow macaroni but my little one still hankered for the goopy stuff at restaurants. "Let's go to Bear Rock Cafe just to eat Mac n cheese..your pasta is not cheesy enough".
So when RP blogged about creamy mac n cheese and we tried it, it became a surefire hit. As lunch and as dinner once in a while, it is creamy and satisfying. I have tried it on a couple of friend's kids too with matching success.
I never stuck to one kind of cheese for the sauce and using different melting cheeses varies the flavor. But try the differing flavors only at your own risk.:)
A word about cheeses: Cheeses that range in texture from semi-soft to firm include Swiss-style cheeses like Emmental and Gruyère, Cheddar, Jarslberg are ideal for melting and are used on toast for grilled cheese sandwiches too. Fontina and Monterey Jack are cheeses we prefer as alternatives to the saltiness of cheddar. Fontina has a mild nuttiness which goes well in most pasta recipes. Pecorino -Romano is good for a grown up pastas. Cheese is an acquired taste and the preferences varies widely. So have fun and let me know which is your favorite cheese.
You Will Need:
All Purpose Flour(maida)-2 tbsp
1 teaspoon salt
Milk -1 1/2 cups
Shredded or cubed Cheddar cheese/Monterey Jack Cheese/Fontina Cheese-1 cup
Parmesan/ Pecorino Cheese-2 tbsp
Elbow macaroni- 6 ounces(1 cup) cooked and drained
Green Peas-1/2 cup
1.Cook up the dried elbow macaroni, following directions on box. Add the frozen peas in the last 4 minutes of cooking. Be sure the texture is al dente, or to your preference. Drain the pasta in strainer.
2. In saucepan over medium low heat melt the butter; blend in flour, stirring well to distribute the heat. This is called the roux (pronounced “roo”), and it serves as a thickening paste.
3. Slowly, stir in the 1 1/2 cups of milk. It’s crucial not to add the milk too fast, or the roux will clump up and harden. Use a whisk to mix until well blended. Keep the heat at medium or low. Add milk only as needed to make it smooth.
4. Gradually add in the shredded or cubed cheddar cheese. Continue whisking until the cheese is melted and starts to bubble.If you feel it is too thick, add a bit more milk and whisk.
5. Add salt (only after tasting) and pepper, for a bit of flavor. A dash of nutmeg or dried mustard also can enhance the flavor. Turn off the flame.
6. Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce and gently mix to blend. Serve hot.
Variations: Add some crushed red peppers, or cayenne, onions in the beginning for additional flavor. Add cooked chicken, mashed cauliflower, bell peppers, broccoli florets or scallions for more variety.
RP's Mac n Cheese