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Old 05-26-2008, 05:28 PM   #1
Clodfobble
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Macaroni & Cheese

I've officially had it with macaroni & cheese recipes. I have tried, I really have. I don't want to make "food" from a box, I want to make relatively healthy meals with real ingredients that did not have to be hydrogenated to any degree. But thus far, every time I have tried it has come out grainy and bland. I know that a smooth, cheesy cheese sauce is possible; it must be. And every couple of months I get suckered in by a new recipe that claims to be "the creamiest," not to mention the kids' favorite, deluxe, incredibly rich, or some other combination of accolades which all inevitably turn out to be lies.

Just this weekend I tried one that included sour cream and cottage cheese, once again fooled into thinking this one could be different, that somehow these smoother dairy products were the key that I'd been missing. Not so. It was the foulest and grainiest of them yet. I even used that halfway-house of cheeses, American, rather than have my trust betrayed by cheddar once agan.

So screw you, real cheese, in all your varieties. It's a shame to let Velveeta win, but there's nothing I can do about it when the rest of you persist in sucking so hard.
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:32 PM   #2
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Oh that's just bizarre. I just finished posting in the Whats Cooking thread where I mentioned i was cooking up a tin of macaroni cheese....clicked New Posts and this thread appears :P

Ohhh, how I wish I were tucking into proper macaroni and cheese.

I usually find that plain old cheddar makes the best cheese sauce.

[eta] though this isn't where I got the recipe, this BBC cookery recipe pretty much matches what I did last time I made macaroni cheese. It was lovely, very cheesy and smooth. http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/da...se_83521.shtml

There's another recipe on there that's designed for kids and which adds 1/2 a tea spoon of nutmeg, a bayleaf and parsley, amongst other things. Personally, I think the plainer the better, but I can see a bit of fresh parsley working a treat.

Last edited by DanaC; 05-26-2008 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:46 PM   #3
Aliantha
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Clod, do you know how to make a beschemell sauce (cheese sauce for the rest of us)?

Melt about 4 tablespoons of butter. Remove the pan from the heat then add in about 2 tablespoons of plain flour. whisk it till it becomes a paste. If you need a little more flour it's ok to add it after you've started mixing. Return the pan to the heat and add a couple of cups of milk. (you can use water, but milk or even full cream if you want a really creamy sauce) Continue to stir with the whisk till the sauce starts to thicken. At this point you should add whatever cheese/s you like.

I usually use mainly cheddar and then sometimes I use a pecorino or parmesan. Any kind of cheese that you like the taste of. Then just keep adding cheese until the sauce tastes as cheesy as you like it. You should keep the heat low at this point. Don't allow the sauce to boil at any point. Just keep it hot enough to melt the cheese.

A tip I often use is to add a chicken stock cube. It just adds a bit of zing to the sauce.

So then, you've boiled your macaroni and drained it. You simply pour the sauce over the top. You can then sprinkle a bit more cheese over and bake it if you like too.

Simple as and tastier than anything you'll get out of a can.
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:51 PM   #4
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The only new thing I notice in that recipe is that it says to cook the roux-plus-milk mixture for 10-15 minutes before adding the cheese. And already I feel that tiny temptation to try again. I really do suspect that it's something I'm doing wrong, because pretty much all my kitchen failures are, and I'm not very good at accepting defeat. But my bitterness can still hold out a few more weeks, at the very least. If I do break, I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out.
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:54 PM   #5
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Ali, yes, that's my general understanding of a bechamel sauce, although all the ones I've seen usually add equal parts butter and flour. But it's still entirely possible I'm screwing it up, even when following instructions closely. My ineptitude in the kitchen cannot be quantified.
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:55 PM   #6
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gee, I usually don't have any problem with cooking mac & cheese from scratch. You do have to spice it up quite a bit, with mustard, cayenne, and white pepper, though, as well as using very sharp cheddar, to make it come out not bland.

I don't have any problem with making the cheese sauce come out creamy, though.

Is it just cheese sauce, Clod, or is it all roux-based sauces you are having a problem with?

on a side note, you can make a great tasting, quick, if untraditional mac and cheese in the skillet. With Velvetta, yep, and --soy sauce!
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Old 05-26-2008, 05:59 PM   #7
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I don't usually measure the ingredients too much. Maybe that's why I always have to add a little more flour. lol

You should try it though. It's really not hard at all, and believe me, you'll love it and so will the kids. I really don't think it's any harder than the packet mixes for mac and cheese (which my husband swore by till I got sick of the stink of it and made him a propper one. Now he doesn't buy packets anymore.)
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aliantha
You should try it though. It's really not hard at all, and believe me, you'll love it and so will the kids.
The uncountable number of bechamel-plus-cheese sauces I have attempted that the kids have bitched about has me convinced otherwise. It's not a question of being willing to put forth the effort, it's the inexplicable failure upon failure upon failure. For all I know, the graininess is the flour, because I'm not cooking it long enough with the milk like Dana's recipe said. Or maybe I'm using the wrong flour (though I do know enough not to use self-rising flour,) or maybe I'm not letting the cheese sauce sit long enough to truly melt (though all my baked versions come out terrible too.) Or maybe my cheese comes from sad cows. I dunno.
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:21 PM   #9
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I don't know why it'd be grainy. Perhaps you're not using a low enough ratio of flour paste to milk? Are you using white plain flour? Also, you need to put in plenty of cheese and if you like, other spices or it will be quite bland. Plenty of salt too. If I were making a 2 cup of milk cheese sauce, I'd be using 2 cups of grated cheese at the least.
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:29 PM   #10
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Uuugh velveeta.

I quite like the three cheese macaroni that does not include velveeta or american. You call it grainy, I call it awesome! mmmm......

Have you tried habanero cheese? Or pepper jack with it? Awesome.
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Old 05-26-2008, 09:32 PM   #11
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I always put crushed potato chips on the top, with extra cheese, as a topping. yum.
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:47 AM   #12
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I need a cheese-eating smiley! I very much hope the situation improves for 'fobble. Mac'n'cheese just shouldn't be that kind of trouble.
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Old 05-27-2008, 12:49 AM   #13
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alternatively, you can always buy Stouffers and stop stressing over it. It's good stuff.

Here's a recipe which I have used (I think) by Martha Stewart (tho' I always add dry mustard to mine). You will note it says:

Quote:
The type of cheese used will also affect the sauce's texture: Sharp white cheddar produces the smoothest result; yellow and extra sharp cheddars can become grainy.
perfect macaroni and cheese
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Last edited by Cloud; 05-27-2008 at 12:54 AM.
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Old 05-27-2008, 07:03 AM   #14
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do NOT listen to ali. she's some sort of kitchen witch.

just make Kraft.
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Old 05-27-2008, 08:35 AM   #15
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When I've ended up with grainy mac & cheese, I think it's because I didn't get the flour brown enough.
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