I had a girlfriend who had a crazy thing for cheese. She was always bringing blocks and bags of it to my place, especially Sargento shredded Parmesan, until I had a fridge full of it. Cheese, cheese, cheese. I’ve been slowly eating my way through it all.
Here’s how you do it.
First, you really have to shred the cheese. I used some cubed cheese and that was a mistake. Shred it, all of it. Get it ready in a bowl so it is all nicely shredded and handy when you need it.
Next get your macaroni cooking. I always cook it al dente at most. The pasta will cook more as you prepare the macaroni and cheese anyway. I don’t want to overdo it, but some people like softer pasta. It is up to you, but keep in mind that whatever you choose, your pasta will soften more before all is finished.
While the pasta is cooking I melt a stick and half of butter in two cups of whole milk, add a little salt. When the butter is melted and the milk begins to steam, start mixing in the shredded cheese. (Remember, shredded cheese.) Oh, and this is so much fun to do with the kids, but I don’t have kids. Never have.
I had three cups of cheese which is plenty for a box of macaroni. My mix was a sharp cheddar and some of that Parmesan. I had some Swiss I added, too. (This was the cubed stuff.) It did add a good flavor, I thought, but probably not necessary.
It is always faster and better to turn the flame down on the stove, cover your pot, and let the cheese melt slowly. You do have to keep checking and stirring, but the covered pot on a lower heat does the trick best.
When the pasta is ready, the sauce is probably ready, too. I usually return the pasta back to the pot used to cook it. Don’t rinse the pasta. Take the cheese, butter, and milk that has been blending so nicely in a sauce pan and pour it over the hot pasta. Stir it all up. If it is a little runny, you can continue to cook on low heat for a minute until the sauce firms up. Again, having al dente pasta is best. Stirring overcooked pasta, for example, can tear the pasta up and it looks like hell. That’s no way to put a smiley face on the day.
Now last night I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted something to do. So I packed up my mac and cheese and saved it for this morning. Here’s a tip for you: Make your macaroni and cheese when you’re hungry and when you are going to eat it. Reheating macaroni and cheese isn’t the easiest thing to do and it ruins the pasta.
A second option for reheating — if you have more patience than I do — is taking the macaroni and cheese and putting into a casserole dish adding a little more melted butter and milk and baking it for a half hour or so in a 350 degree oven. This will totally ruin the prized pasta you made the night before (the pasta gets too soft for my liking), but it tastes good.
One final comment on taste. Using a good Parmesan will add flavor and salt, but I think you need to add salt to the mix anyway, probably more than you expect. Taste your sauce, though. Nothing is worse than too much salt. Or use more Parmesan. Don’t have enough Parmesan? Well go out and find a woman who buys it in bulk and stuffs it in your fridge.
By the way, a fried egg atop your steaming plate of macaroni and cheese not only makes it feel more like breakfast, it tastes great too!
- The Quickest English Macaroni and Cheese (fromapriltotable.wordpress.com)