Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mac and a whole lotta cheese

The definition of comfort food - mac'n'cheese.  It is an undeniable crowd pleaser.  Young and old - you can't go wrong.  It's so easy to make and you are almost 100% guaranteed to have all the ingredients in your fridge/pantry.

I make this regularly for my kids - the ingredients are all fresh and healthy and the milk and cheese combined serve up a hefty portion of calcium.

Here's what you need:

  • Two cups pasta - any shape is fine but I like using macaroni because it's easier to scoopon kid-sized spoons
  • Bag of your favorite grated cheese - I use 4-cheese Italian but feel free to use any brand/type you like.  Mozzarella works fine too.
  • 2 cups full-fat milk (for adults I go skimmed or low-fat)
  • 50g of unsalted butter, salted works too 
  • Quarter cup of flour (any type)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (may need more or less salt depending on the type of cheese you opt for)
  • Pinch of nutmeg (not pictured)

Right,  first things first.

1.  Bring water to a (frantic) boil, season with salt and cook pasta.  Aldente for adults, soft for kids.  Once pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
2.  In a saucepan, melt butter on medium heat.

3.  Add flour and mix well using a whisk. This creates a roux.  A roux is basically a thickening element that when mixed with milk you create bechamel.  I don't like the bechamel package mix and like to make my own.  Corn starch also thickens but I find the taste of butter more pleasing.  If you are bored and want to know more about roux, click here.

4.  Add the milk and again with the whisk, continue mixing without stop.  Think of this as a good arm exercise.  The liquid will slowly start to thicken and you will feel it as you whisk.

5.  Once it's nice and thick, add the cheese.  Stir until it's incorporated well.

6. Before seasoning taste the mixture - you may not need any salt at all.  If you do, add salt and keep tasting.  Add a bit of pepper and a sprinkle of nutmeg and mix in well.

7.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and mix the sauce well with the pasta.

8.  Serve immediately or if not, you can save it in an ovenproof dish and bake it for 20 minutes before serving.


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