|Maybe if The Party would |
dress up with me while I made
mac and cheese, we might
get a TV deal.
But, it's at least as good as a variety show because mac and cheese is involved. I know, we don't usually discuss cooking around here, but, we are new and improved and we are going to expand our horizons. And, my friend Echo (isn't that the coolest name) asked me for my mac and cheese recipe and said I should make it a blog post because that is the way a recipe should be given/written. So, who knows, maybe you will see other recipes. I don't make that many things, so we'll see how that goes. I'll be happy to pass along some of my recipes for ordering out and making reservations. You shouldn't just wing that stuff.
Anyway, Echo was saying she didn't see the beauty of baking mac and cheese - what was wrong with it the way it was? It's creamy and delicious and when you bake it, it gets dried out, not more exciting. So, I told Echo, that while m&c IS super delicious as is, it can be even more awesome baked (the m&c, not the cook). Please note, baking your m&c does add extra opportunities to burn yourself, so keep that in mind if you have issues.
Here is the recipe the way I gave it to Echo:
Cook a box of penne or elbows or spirals - whatever makes you happy. Aim for the slightly al dente side since they will get some more cooking time. Just slightly firmer than you would want if you were eating them right away.
I leave noodles in the strainer after I rinse them.
In pot I cooked noodles in I use Ragu cheddar cheese sauce as a base (you can also use Campbell's cheddar soup, I just like the taste of this better). You don't actually have to use a base like this, but it helps with creating a quick and creamy cheese sauce.
You can use pre-shredded or shred your own (I just read they are similar in cost pound for pound) cheese. I switch using either. I use a mix of sharp and mild cheddar. I also add a couple heaping tablespoons of ricotta (not a must).
Add milk (I use 1%) and cheese until you have the amount you want and its a thick sauce. Consistency of a cream soup I would say. Better to be too thick than too thin.
I also sometimes add some shredded smoked Gouda or broken up pieces of American cheese for creaminess.
Pour noodles into cheese sauce. Don't use all the noodles until you see if it will use up too much sauce (use a bigger pot than you need to cook noodles so there isn't an overflow issue with the sauce and cheese). Regardless of how careful you are, you will probably get some noodles on the stove or on the floor. You should probably pick them up, but your choice.
Remember to leave it creamier than you would normally eat it. It should seem like there isn't enough noodles for the cheese.
Pour into greased casserole dish.
*Note* After I grease dish - I cover bottom in shredded cheddar for a a yummy chewy cheesy bottom and because there aren't enough calories and fat as is.
On Top -
Take a sleeve of Ritz (or like) crackers. put sealed sleeve in zip lock bag. gently pummel sleeve until crackers are crushed. if you don't use the zip lock bag, the sleeve will pop and crackers will shoot all over the floor (trust me). You could use a food processor - but then you have to clean it.
Put crackers in bowl. Add a couple teaspoons of melted butter and mix together (it's easier with your hand) into slightly moist crumbs. Sprinkle on top of mac and cheese.
Bake at 350 until crumbs are browning and mac and cheese is bubbling.
Oh -and by the time you're done, you will be too hot to eat something hot and will have to wait until later to enjoy it.
Also - I add black pepper and dry mustard and a few dashes of hot sauce when I am making the cheese sauce. It doesn't make it spicy, it just gives it a little depth. No, I don't really know what that means, but it's good.
|Baked is Better|
Again, we are talking about the mac and cheese.