This is Baneful’s Column and I’m trying something new. A cooking channel. An idea I had several years ago, but just decided to do now.
- 6 oz. dry pasta
- 10 oz. of grated cheeses
- 1.5 cup Whole Milk
- 2 tbsp. Butter
- 2 tbsp. Flour
- 1 tbsp. Garlic-infused oil (or ½ tsp garlic powder)
- ¼ tsp Salt
- Preheat oven to 350*F.
- Cook pasta for 2-3 minutes less than box directions. Rinse in cold water, wrap and refrigerate for a few minutes.
- Melt butter on saucepan in low to medium heat. Slowly whisk flour in for ~2 mins to make a roux. Slowly whisk in milk for several minute until it forms a consistent sauce.
- Add in half of the cheeses, salt, garlic oil and any other seasonings of your choice. Stir in for 3 minutes on medium heat.
- Stir sauce into pasta. Oil a baking dish and put the pasta/sauce inside. Cover the remaining cheese on top. (optional: adding breadcrumbs + other seasonings on top)
- Bake for ~20 mins.
Options for pasta: Macaroni, penne, cavatappi and pipe. But it’s preference. Anything with holes and maybe some ridges to absorb cheese is preferable.
Options for cheese: Lots of them, but cheddar, Monterey-jack, mozzarella, Havarti and fontina are some.
Make sure the pasta isn’t overcooked; if it’s soggy, it breaks easily and won’t have the strength to support the cheese. After the pasta is cooked, it will still be hot, causing it to cook itself and evaporate; it may dry out; cool it off fast.
Patience is a virtue. Take the time to make the sauce blend evenly, so that it’s thick enough to stick to the pasta. Make sure the stove temperature isn’t too high. If it’s too hot, that could cause: the butter to burn into brown-butter, the roux to lose some of its thickening properties, the milk to not blend in with the sauce and worst of all, the cheese is stringy and clumps together instead of spreading evenly.
If the oven is too hot, it will cook unevenly, some parts burning and other parts undercooked.
Check on the mac and cheese mid-bake to make sure it doesn’t overcook and dry out. It may look good on the surface, but check the texture.
There are all sorts of different flavors you can use to enhance mac and cheese: Mustard (in the sauce), minced red onions, garlic confit, white wine, lemon juice, basil, salt/pepper, parmesan, Romano, basil, nutmeg (tiny amount), jalapenos, Aleppo pepper, etc.
You can even drizzle it with a mango/pineapple hot sauce and some ranch dressing on top after-bake. The possibilities are endless.