Macaroni And Cheese Recipe - Tom Jeffers

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Anyone have a good recipe for a stove top mac n cheese?  Is it like baked mac n cheese but omitting the step of baking?
 
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You don't need to bake mac-and-cheese at all. It just tastes a lot better.

Mac-and-cheese is easy. Make a thick bechamel, stir in a lot of grated cheese, stir in boiled macaroni, bake. To omit baking, omit baking. The only thing to watch out for is the part where you add the cheese: some cheese (notably cheddared cheeses) have a tendency to break, and a lot of cheeses can become stringy if over-worked, so add the cheese in one go, to simmering sauce, and stir just until it's 90% melted, then remove from heat and add the macaroni immediately.

Bear in mind that an annoying number of children don't like real mac and cheese, preferring the plastic stuff that comes in the box.
 
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Well I'm not a child and I don't like the stuff from the box but I do remember eating it growing up and it didn't need baking.  I make a mean mac n cheese but I will not put it in the oven next time, I will just serve it as a cheesy pasta instead.  One is not always in the mood for baked flavor.
 
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preferring the plastic stuff that comes in the box.

What makes it plastic, Chris?

I'm not being a wiseass. I have never had mac & cheese from a box. Only recently (as in the past year), that I've ever had it at all.

But I thought the Kraft et als stuff was made with powdered cheddar. Once it's mixed and baked, how is it much different from scratch ingredients?

And what is it about mac & cheese from a box that most kids seem to prefer it over home-made?
 
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preferring the plastic stuff that comes in the box.

What makes it plastic, Chris?

I'm not being a wiseass. I have never had mac & cheese from a box. Only recently (as in the past year), that I've ever had it at all.

But I thought the Kraft et als stuff was made with powdered cheddar. Once it's mixed and baked, how is it much different from scratch ingredients?

And what is it about mac & cheese from a box that most kids seem to prefer it over home-made?
You've never had mac n cheese till recently?  Explain yourself KY!

Well, real mac n cheese has a few expected ingredients like pasta, milk, flour, butter, cheese.  The stuff on the box has a long list of ingredients that I don't recognize as food.  It's processed food.  Powdered cheddar - does that come from powdered cows?

As for what is it that kids like about the stuff in the box?  The commercials are zany and the food is neon orange.  Need there be another reason?
 
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There's nothing nefarious about it, Chris. My mom never served it, so it wasn't the comfort food most Americans grew up with. Through the years I just never made it either. No particular reason.

Then one day I said to Friend Wife, ya know, we really ought to see what the shouting is about. So that's the first time I ever tasted it. Used one of Ina Garten's recipes.
 
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My kids hate the box macaroni and cheese and always have.  I always made it from scratch when they were small and they grew up knowing that to be macaroni and cheese. 
 
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Man, do you guys take things seriously.

"Plastic": I use the word rather the way lots of people use the word "nuke" for a microwave. No, it's not plastic as such, it's just full of questionable ingredients. Kraft mac&cheese is to real mac&cheese as a McDonald's Chicken McNugget is to homemade fried chicken.

Children: I was just pointing this out in case Koukouvakia was planning to make a big batch and serve some or all of it to little kids. Apparently it's a non-issue in this case. But I have learned, in a year of running the hospitality committee for my son's nursery school (read: making big-batch cheap foods to serve parents and children at get-togethers), that a certain significant fraction of small children hate real mac&cheese because it's not like the stuff out of a box. Some of these kids also won't eat fried chicken because it's not McNuggets.
 

phatch

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The best mac and cheese I've had was rather different. It used eggs to thicken the sauce and had more cheese than any other I've seen too.  It's shown up a couple of places, in a Cook's Illustrated, in the prior version of Joy of Cooking and one other place I can't recall right now.
 
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There's nothing nefarious about it, Chris. My mom never served it, so it wasn't the comfort food most Americans grew up with. Through the years I just never made it either. No particular reason.

Then one day I said to Friend Wife, ya know, we really ought to see what the shouting is about. So that's the first time I ever tasted it. Used one of Ina Garten's recipes.
Boy are you ellusive today KY.  So tell us now, did you like it?!

I start my roux with one very finely diced onion.  By the time it becomes bechamel the onion has melted into the sauce imparting a wonderful flavor.  I also add a little mustard powder and paprika too, but all subtly.  I don't like any big chunks of anything in my mac n cheese.
 
 
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Liked it just fine, Chris.

But it's never going to become the iconic comfort food that it is for so many others. Given my history with it, it's just another pasta dish.
 
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The egg version is to help it hold together a heck of a lot of cheese. The trick is, it can break really easily: if you get it too hot, the eggs curdle. If you want to do this, I'd say keep it in a pot and don't bake it.

KYHeirloomer, I honestly didn't mean to cast aspersions. Nor, in fact, was I the one who asked for explanations. I am not actually a huge fan of most mac-and-cheese, because I think it's usually gluey and doesn't taste much of the cheeses it's made from; I'd rather have something more like a classic Alfredo sauce made properly --- lighter, simpler, and frankly cheesier. If I'm going to eat something like mac-and-cheese, I'd prefer a casserole that had something more in it, in which case what you're looking at is a casserole made from old-fashioned French-style crepe filling but using elbow macaroni as the starch instead of crepes. Tuna casserole, for example, rocks.

I will say that it is remarkably easy to convert children to a simplistic Alfredo-style sauce. You just melt butter, add a little cream and a little grated Parmesan, add the just-boiled noodles with a little of the boiling water, and shake on more grated cheese of whatever kind as you toss. When it smooths out, serve instantly. My son and his pals at nursery school are big fans of this --- which has actually caused some difficulty when other parents find their kids would prefer "Sam's dad's mac and cheese" and ask me which brand I buy, and I have to explain what I've done. They hate that. I've tried pointing out that it's actually faster than most "instant" brands, but they don't really believe me --- perhaps it's not true if the microwave is your principal cooking utensil. But the point is, in my experience what the kids really like is strong, dry cheese flavor with wiggly noodles. Their ideal would be Penne Alfredo --- yes, penne, or some very similar smallish dry noodle with an attractive shape. They want it very cheesy, every kid I know adores real Parmigiano Reggiano, and they want that flavor strongly. Beyond that, I don't find kids are such big fans of goo as all that: they'd rather have a smooth, strongly napping sauce than something sticky.

Of course, since the OP wasn't focused on kids, that's all trivia, but in case someone searches.

In passing, every kid I have ever met loves bacon, so consider using some in producing the fat base.

OK, KYHeirloomer, it's up to you: I want you to try Penne Alfredo, made properly with high-end bacon or cured ham, good Parmesan, and sweet cream. Stir in some fresh peas just before it's done, just to warm them. Now tell me what you think.

As you say, just another pasta dish. But an awfully good one, no?
 
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Sorry about the confusion, Chris. I had picked up from the "plastic" comments, and mentally just thought we were still discussing it. Apologies, too, to Koukouvagia.

As you say, just another pasta dish. But an awfully good one, no?

Don't misunderstand, Chris. I didn't mean "just another" in the sense of ho-hum; but one more (actually a group more, if you think about it) among the dozens of other pasta dishes in my recipe collection.

Frankly, I'd rather use penne or other small pasta that holds the sauce better anyway. In the Ina Garten recipe I tried, mini-fusilli was the pasta of choice, rather than elbows.

But the long and the short of it is that, for us, mac & cheese is never going to become the go-to comfort food it is for so many other people.
 
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Chris! I make mine the same way you do only I use Velveeta and a good grated italian cheese. I top it with crumbs, more cheese and melted butter and put in oven (Au Gratin Style0  The grandkids do not like it , they say it does not taste like what they get home (Kraft Boxed Stuff)  I can't eat that stuff and sodium count is off the walls. It is made by chemist not cooks. I would like to use a good cheddar, but as you say the butterfat and oils separate come to the top and whats left gets chewy. The best pre-made one I tasted was Stouffers.
 
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Joined Apr 3, 2010
Chris! I make mine the same way you do only I use Velveeta and a good grated italian cheese. I top it with crumbs, more cheese and melted butter and put in oven (Au Gratin Style0  The grandkids do not like it , they say it does not taste like what they get home (Kraft Boxed Stuff)  I can't eat that stuff and sodium count is off the walls. It is made by chemist not cooks. I would like to use a good cheddar, but as you say the butterfat and oils separate come to the top and whats left gets chewy. The best pre-made one I tasted was Stouffers.
 
2,374
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
Chris! I make mine the same way you do only I use Velveeta and a good grated italian cheese. I top it with crumbs, more cheese and melted butter and put in oven (Au Gratin Style0  The grandkids do not like it , they say it does not taste like what they get home (Kraft Boxed Stuff)  I can't eat that stuff and sodium count is off the walls. It is made by chemist not cooks. I would like to use a good cheddar, but as you say the butterfat and oils separate come to the top and whats left gets chewy. The best pre-made one I tasted was Stouffers.
Ugh -- I have always hated Velveeta. If you really want that Amazing Plastic Taste (tm), incidentally, they now have "easy-mac." Yes, that's right, you can open this little tub, add water to the line, nuke it for 3 1/2 minutes, then stir in the cheese powder and keep stirring until it thickens. Perfect for those non-professional cooks who find tough chores like boiling water too taxing.
 
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Gee, Chris, sounds right up there with Crock-Pot Classics. Everything you need to make a slow-cooker meal all in one box. Defrost it, dump it in a slow cooker, and walk away.

Oh, yeah. Don't forget to turn the damn thing on.
 

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