Missing Macaroni

One of the things I miss from back in The States is Kraft Blue Box Macaroni & Cheese.  Yes, I know it’s processed crap.  I don’t care.  And I’m willing to bet a lot of people reading this right now feel the same.  After being served it since children, we develop the taste for it, to the extent where “real” mac-and-cheese doesn’t taste right.

So this is my short dissertation on how I make macaroni and cheese, from scratch.  You actually don’t need much to make it work, though you will need an astronomical amount of cheese.  Usually I cook it in large batches which, by now, you should notice is a pattern for me – just wait until I tell you how I do stovetop barbeque pulled chicken.  I’m getting ahead of myself.

I cook up two pounds of dry pasta, which makes enough pasta for anywhere from eight-to-fourteen servings, depending on the serving size.  As I boil the water, I melt out a quarter cup of butter in a separate pot.  Once I put my pasta in, I add four cups of milk to the butter, which should come to a boil quite quickly – the key is to keep stirring it, so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot.  Once the milk mixture is boiling, drop in four cups of shredded cheese.

I find that pre-shredded cheese melts better than fresh-shredded cheese; I find pre-shredded cheese has a lower moisture content, and that may be why.  My preference is also a Colby-Jack blend, as opposed to staying strictly to cheddar.  Keep stirring your mixture, because you’re far from done – once your first dose of cheese has melted, add another two cups.  Your sauce should still look a little loose, and your pasta should be cooked and strained, by this point.  Now comes the tricky part.

You need to add salt.  If you don’t add salt, your sauce will taste extremely bland.  The amount of salt you use is going to be entirely up to you – it depends on how much you want your macaroni and cheese to be like Blue Box Mac-n-Cheese, which is super salty.  I usually put in around two teaspoons of salt, when I make a batch this large, which is very heavy on the salt.  You can add in protein, too – ham or bacon is amazing, but I also like sautéed chicken, as well.

Whatever you choose to do, chances are you’ll do it wrong the first time (I messed up twice before I figured out I wanted more salt), but it’s just like the rest of the recipes I’ve been sharing: make it how you like it and be prepared to fail and learn from it.  That’s how you go from being a cook to being a chef.

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