The basic rules: Go out into “Blog World” visit blogs we may have been wanting to get to know, have stumbled across or just find one we’ve never been to before. The challenge is then for us to pick a recipe from “Blog World”. It can be ANY recipe we’d like to try, but it MUST be from another blog. It cannot be from a celebrity chef like Rachel Ray or Taste of Home (bummer), etc., it needs to be a SPECIFIC recipe, then we bake it & blog about it. This month, our quest was to find the Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
This one was a challenge for me for a couple of reasons. The first and primary reason, is that I have already found the Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese. However, I pressed on. Since our favorite Mac & Cheese recipe is more of a flavored dish, I thought I would seek out a more traditional recipe. I looked at hundreds. I had my own rules about what would make an Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese. Most important part was that I didn’t want it cooked in the oven – I wanted a stove top version, simply because in my experience, they tend to be the creamiest. My Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese has to be very creamy.
After much searching and weeks of reading recipes and blogs online, I finally found/chose my Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
My Recipe for the Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese as part of the Crazy Cooking Challenge for this month, is from Kelly Jaggers over at Evil Shenanigans.
I can’t stop visiting her site either. She had me hooked when I read:
I prefer my baked goods to be from scratch, I like to cook with fresh, local ingredients, I love grass feed beef and organic, free-range chicken, and I love all things exotic. I can’t live without my butter, vanilla beans, chili peppers, and chocolate.
At any rate, I’m going to do a quick plug for her, because I was excited to see she had her first cookbook, Everything Pie, published this month. (Hey, it was published AFTER the challenge – she was NOT a celebrity chef when I chose her recipe, she might be now, but she wasn’t when I picked it. So there.)
As a fellow writer/author it makes me very happy to see her dreams coming true.
Stove-top Mac & Cheese
Serves 4-6 adapted from Cooks Illustrated.
(printable recipe at the bottom of the post)
- 8oz macaroni, or any smallish tube shaped pasta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 oz evaporated milk
- 6 oz freshly grated cheddar cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper
- Hot sauce, to taste
- Salt and pepper
Boil the pasta according to package directions, but reduce the cooking time by one minute.
Grate the cheese while you wait. You really shouldn’t use shredded. Here are her notes:
One thing I feel I must add is that you really should grate your cheese fresh. Cheeses that come ready-grated have anti-caking agents in them which change the way they melt. They also change the overall texture of the cheese sauce. Of course, if it makes your life easier you can use the ready-grated stuff but the sauce may not be as creamy.
Also, if you are watching your figure, as so many of us are, you can use reduced-fat cheese (this you must grate yourself, reduced-fat ready-grated cheese will not work). You can also use 2% evaporated milk. The results are just as creamy, just as delicious, but far kinder to your thighs.
So get to grating that cheese.
When the pasta has boiled sufficiently, drain and pour back into the pot.
Over medium-low heat, add the butter and stir until melted. Here is my first change to the recipe. I doubled the recipe since there is seven of us, and so I added a bit more butter than it called for (even doubled) to make sure that every noodle had some butter. Total I think I used about 3-4 Tbs.
Next, in a separate bowl, mix the egg, the evaporated milk, the dry mustard and the red pepper. It need to be mixed a lot better than this photo, which is way too lumpy and not blended yet.
When you have finished mixing it all, pour the entire bowl over the pasta. Stir until it begins to thicken, about three to five minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat then add the cheese in four installments, making sure the first is melted completely before adding the next. Believe it or not, this actually helps with the creaminess. I did wind up adding a splash of milk at the end to get just a little more creaminess at the end. You can do this or you can skip it.