She's Got Words

December 29, 2012

Combo-Mac-n-Cheese

Filed under: food & drink,health & wellness — Gigi @ 5:34 pm

I’m dyin’, y’all.  Seriously, it is bad.  I’ve been starved for a good mac-n-cheese recipe since I left Atlanta and P’cheen is no longer in my backyard.  It doesn’t help that every time I make mac-n-cheese tiny man sticks his tongue out at it ’cause it isn’t as orange, and “watery” as he prefers.  *cue my gag reflex and eye rolling here*

I get it– no, really, I do.  I fully understand that if a kid is exposed to only one type of a food, especially one filled with artificial flavours, dyes, and preservatives it is nearly impossible to steer them into a love affair with something homemade, and good for them; well, as good for you as gooey, cheesy-covered noodles can be.  We even had this argument over grilled cheese the other day.  His claim that I never make “good grilled cheese with the orange, wrapper cheese” hit me right in the stomach- especially since I had just lovingly hand crafted for him an amazing, mouth watering grilled cheese with the most mild cheese I had on hand.  A sandwich he swore he would eat and enjoy.  A sandwich made with the last two piece of bread in the entire house which denied me my very own delectable cheesy goodness.  Let me tell y’all, I had to leave the table for a few minutes for a break after his admission.  I was that hurt.  Even so, I still get it.  So how do I fix it?  

I’m not gonna give up.  I will do whatever I can, within my power, to find the perfect combo-mac-n-cheese there is.  In short: it has to be wholesome, with whole grain noodles, but not chewy plastic-y noodles one often finds with whole grain.  It must be gooey and creamy, but not made so by velveeta or some other processed crap.  And most importantly, it must be soul-satisfying without leaving me feeling like I need to spend a week in the gym to stem the flow of cheese heading straight for my butt-cheeks.  I’ve scoured the interwebs looking for the perfect blend, but I have to say there isn’t much out there.  With this being the case, I’ve taken it upon myself to engineer my own combo-mac-n-cheese from bits and pieces of other recipes that I’ve had former success with in hopes that I’ll stumble upon some hodgepodge of perfection.  So hike up your girdles, girls, this is about the get serious.  

mcncheeseVersion numba 1 of Combo-Mac-n-Cheese

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
  • 3 cups skim milk, hot but not boiling
  • 1.5 cup low/no sodium chicken stock, hot but not boiling
  • 5 tbsp AP Flour
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 16oz low fat/skim mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups whole wheat elbow noodles
  • Worcestershire to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • nutmeg to taste
  • cooking spray for pan

Set the oven to 375°.  Bring pasta to boil in salted water until cooked just under al dente.  You want the pasta to be soft on the outside, but still firm on the inside.  Generally boiling for ~3-4 minutes less than the directions achieves the desired consistency.  Once pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander and rinse under cold tap water. Allow to drain completely while building the sauce.
In a medium sauce pan heat the butter till melted and bubbly.  Add the flour to the butter and whisk for about a minute or so, till the paste is cooked through.  Gradually pour, in a steady stream, the hot milk/chicken stock mix into the paste while whisking the mixture.  Continue to cook and whisk until the sauce bubbles and thickens.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in cheese, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Remember your pasta has cooked in salted water, so not much salt will be needed in the sauce.  Your cheese sauce should be the consistency of sweetened condensed milk.  If you want to get a little creative, add some powdered garlic, powdered onion or cayenne to your sauce at this time to give your mac-n-cheese a bit of a kick.
Mix the pasta and sauce into a casserole dish and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden, the sauce is bubbly and the noodles have completed their cooking.

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