Macaroni & Cheese - type of pasta.

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Hi, kids. I would like some advice. I want to make macaroni & cheese, the old fashioned kind you bake in the oven, using Fannie Farmer's Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese recipe. All I have on hand in the way of pasta is boxes & boxes of Penne Rigate and don't want to buy macaroni if I don't have to.

Can you substitute or does it have to be macaroni for some reason? I've not made mac & cheese properly for many years but have the sudden urge. Also, while I'm here - they stress good quality cheese. How do I know what is good quality and what is not? Can you go solely by price? Many thanx.
 
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You can use penne. It will be different but still Mac-n-cheese.

I completely understand these kind of sudden urges!

As long as it’s natural cheese, not processed or cheese-food, you’ll be fine. Sometimes an extra-sharp cheddar will lead to a grainy sauce, though. I think the extra aging makes it better for eating than for use in sauces.
 
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Thanks a lot, Brian, for your advice. Glad you mentioned the possible negative effect of old cheddar. As to urges, well...I can't always indulge them because we live about 15 miles from the nearest store! When women need chocolate, that can be a serious situation...

If you do not mind my asking, can you explain what your avatar is about? Not sure how to interpret it. All your food is free?
 
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Ha, ha... the avatar... I really should change that. I own two teen boys. That’s for them. Continually reminding them that food might seem free but chores are mandatory. I’m also known to keep reciting, “No shirt, no shoes, no service; I reserve the right to deny service based on whim and mood.”

I’ve been out of the restaurant business for years, except as investor and advisor.
 
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Hi, kids. I would like some advice. I want to make macaroni & cheese, the old fashioned kind you bake in the oven, using Fannie Farmer's Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese recipe. All I have on hand in the way of pasta is boxes & boxes of Penne Rigate and don't want to buy macaroni if I don't have to.

Can you substitute or does it have to be macaroni for some reason? I've not made mac & cheese properly for many years but have the sudden urge. Also, while I'm here - they stress good quality cheese. How do I know what is good quality and what is not? Can you go solely by price? Many thanx.
brianshaw brianshaw gave some excellent advice.

To add some cheese suggestions, Butterkaise and Muenster go well together.

Good luck.
 
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@SGS. I always thought you had to use cheddar, I really did, because all the recipes I see say so. (Not that I've looked at that many, mind you...) Thanks for your suggestion. "Kaise" just means cheese in German, doesn't it? So is that standard issue Butter Cheese?

I don't know much about cheese, am no aficionado. There are about a hundred kinds of cheese at the supermarket. And have you ever been to Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, Ohio? O M G. 1400 varieties last I heard. I had to take to my bed after my trip there.
 
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Gosh, cheddar is quite possibly most traditional but other options are good too. As long as they melt and get gooey. I like Monterrey Jack and roasted Pasilla Chile with macaroni. For an Italian approach: fontina and provalone and sun-dried tomato... and sausage too... with macaroni. Mac and cheese is ripe for variations.
 
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I like to add Gruyere to my cheddar, it helps with the melting and adds a nice flavor.

Great, now I want some too!
 
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Haha, you guys are gonna die when I say it's not mac & cheese unless it has Velveeta in it. I know! But my mom always made it that way. I'd give a lot of money for a plate of her mac & cheese now. I don't think she knew any other kind of cheese existed. She used to put it on pizza too. Which oddly enough was good in it's own way too. I remember when Bobby Flay had that show where he'd try to beat someone who was known for a certain dish. He went up against a southern lady who was known for her mac & cheese. He lost, and when she was telling what she put in hers, there was a list of several cheeses, including Velveeta. My mom would melt a chunk of Velveeta in whole milk with some butter and pour that over cooked macaroni and then bake it. But to answer your original question: Pasta shapes are designed for different sauces. Some sauces are thinner, which is why you will see pasta shapes with ridges, for instance to help the sauce cling better. Others are smooth and intended for thicker sauces. Mac & cheese is pretty basic though, with a thick sauce, so any pasta will work. The shape of the pasta will only affect the pasta to sauce ratio.
 
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Velveeta mac-n-cheese; Your Mom, my Mom,
many Moms... I loved it too... and then my taste buds matured.
 
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But to answer your original question: Pasta shapes are designed for different sauces. Some sauces are thinner, which is why you will see pasta shapes with ridges, for instance to help the sauce cling better. Others are smooth and intended for thicker sauces. Mac & cheese is pretty basic though, with a thick sauce, so any pasta will work. The shape of the pasta will only affect the pasta to sauce ratio.

Many thanks for reassuring me. As to cheese type, I see that you folks agree that it doesn't have to be limited to cheddar. I'm going into the city today and try to find something more exotic than cheddar. Maybe the fontina/provolone mix for my Mac & Cheese, a suggestion from Brian Shaw. My family better appreciate my trouble...Hey, Brian, I like your attitude to child rearing. :p

Since childhood, I could eat anything. Anything. Put it in front of me and I wolfed it down. Two exceptions: velveeta & cheez whiz in a jar. To this day, I gag.
 
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Haha, you guys are gonna die when I say it's not mac & cheese unless it has Velveeta in it.

Well, sort of...

I prefer classic mac n cheese with extra sharp cheddar. I add a little Velveeta to the grated cheddar and it prevents it from getting grainy. (Sorry wyandotte, you don't need much and you can't taste it. I don't like those over processed cheeses either.) Have no idea how it does this. And don't use pre-grated cheese since it is treated with stuff to keep it from sticking to itself.

Another trick for a fluffier mac n cheese is to add a beaten egg to the cheese. Also, I never use a roux.

This thread is making me crave mac n cheese!
 
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I remember in my late teens/early 20s when Larry the Cable Guy had his own brand of Mac n Cheese (along with beer bread mix, cornbread mix and a few other snacks). It was all horrible, but I couldn't resist trying every single product he had.

I agree with Dr. Irene about the velveeta (not too much, but a little really does help).
 
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Pre-Qualify ...
I'm not sayin' ... I'm just sayin'.

I don't know what recipe anyone uses ... there are a zillion recipes ... not all of them use a rue but some do ... I hate the death out of using a rue ... SO ... for that and other good reasons ...

VELVEETA is the ticket for good Mac'n'Cheese. You don't have to use a lot. It doesn't have to be the "Main Character". Use all the different cheeses/blends of cheese you like. Just consider that Velveeta smoothes everything out very nicely and creamy as it's supposed to be ... with NO rue.

Here's a bonus thought ... Try making M'n'C using a Ramen noodle block. Cook it 75% and pour on the hot melted cheese. Do it in a small sauté pan trying to keep the
"block" shape. Plate it up and top it with a thick slice of fried bologna. ... This time I'm tellin'-'ya.


"We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery.".
 

pete

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Pre-Qualify ...
I'm not sayin' ... I'm just sayin'.

I don't know what recipe anyone uses ... there are a zillion recipes ... not all of them use a rue but some do ... I hate the death out of using a rue ... SO ... for that and other good reasons ...

VELVEETA is the ticket for good Mac'n'Cheese. You don't have to use a lot. It doesn't have to be the "Main Character". Use all the different cheeses/blends of cheese you like. Just consider that Velveeta smoothes everything out very nicely and creamy as it's supposed to be ... with NO rue.

Here's a bonus thought ... Try making M'n'C using a Ramen noodle block. Cook it 75% and pour on the hot melted cheese. Do it in a small sauté pan trying to keep the
"block" shape. Plate it up and top it with a thick slice of fried bologna. ... This time I'm tellin'-'ya.


"We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery.".
I guess I am old school, but I love roux. The key is to make sure that you cook, whatever you are making, for plenty of time after adding the roux, to get rid of the raw flour taste. But different strokes for different folks.

I do agree about Velveeta though, especially if you haven't used a roux. It is great for getting a smooth cheese sauce, and as you said, it doesn't have to be the main cheese. Just a bit can really help, especially if using an older, drier cheese that might have a tendency to make your sauce grainy.
 
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Ahhh....Velveeta. That brings back memories of college, prohibited hot plates and $4 cases of beer ( I went to college quite a while ago :) )
 
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I like roux/bechamel for alfredo or pastitsio, but not mac and cheese. The roux changes the flavor profile and makes it less American mac and cheese and more Mediterranean pasta bake. Both are tasty, but only one is true mac and cheese.
 

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