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:

Butter-2 tablespoons
All Purpose Flour(maida)-2 tbsp
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper- optional
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.

Related Links:
RP's Mac n Cheese


Revathi said...

As soon as I came to US I tried a pack of krafts mac N cheese to see what all the hungama is about.. Did not work for me !!! Probably it was because my palette was too untrained for other cuisines !!!

Why r u silent these days ??

Roopa said...

wow i still have to try this, wheenver i add milk it lumps up here and there may be i need to buy a whisk for this.

Nice yummy mac n cheese

Pravs said...

good info on different cheese.... didn't know some of them. This dish will be apt for my little one :D

reena said...

one easy thing and my daughter doesn't touch it :(. haven't been to your blog in sometime now.

Seena said...

Nice one for kids...Do you know the Arabic version using macaroni and cheese as layers..I had it once but couldn't find the recipe yet..It was very tasty and cut like cake..

Nabeela said...

Nice picture....I recently tried a bland-ish mac and cheese recipe...and although it contained some really good cheese(pecorino-romano and parmesan), I thought it could do with some spice, like maybe jalapenos ;)

Mallugirl said...

Revathi, i grew up eating macaroni in tomato sauce so mac n cheese was unknown till i came here. no, i am not a fan.. its for kids..

Roopa, a whisk makes it so much easier.

Prave, do try on ur little one and let me know even if he spits it out. But go light on the cheese intitially.

Reena, hats off to ur daughter.. she is an oddity but i am sure she relishes ur yummy spicy food.

Seena, I have had the arabic version too. But I am not sure of the recipe.

Nabee, I always add crushed red peppers to kick it up. Also canned chipotle chilies works great but too hot for kids.

Surya Hith said...

I tried mac n cheese once but didn't come out good.I have to try this recipe for my daughter.looks yummy n tasty!!

bee said...

a good one. try adding chopped sundried tomatoes, asparagus, or bottled roasted red peppers.

Prema Sundar said...

Yes I too like macaroni in tomato sauce rather than cheese... But my kid loves it with cheese. Thanks for the info abt cheeses.

Anonymous said...

1 cup milk or 2? ingr say 1 cup, method says 2...

Mallugirl said...

D, sorry for the mess.. go with 1 1/2 cup milk and add as needed to make it liquidy. Depends on the cheese to make it thick or not.

Anonymous said...

ok thanks! did i mention that i like your blog very much and am crazy about kerala food?