“Mac & Cheese” is an American staple. Cheesy pasta dishes are internationally available, but we’re talking about the Crayola color kind.
Popularized by James Hemmings & Thomas Jefferson the classic powder formula was not developed until 1918 (in Switzerland!) & isn’t even regulated as cheese in America now.
Kraft Mac & Cheese was present in many homes struggling during The Great Depression, as the meal was hailed the “cheapest protein possible.” The rise in necessity of processed cheese as an affordable alternative to the real stuff even popularized the term American Cheese.
When it comes to modern day Americans, many are divided on the how, when & why of mac & cheese. Some people are even fanatic in their beliefs about the pasta dish.
This is the conundrum and beauty of mac and cheese. It is one person’s survival food, another person’s staple main course, and yet another person’s food of culture and celebration. Divided, as America is, along class and race lines, when you bring up mac and cheese you have to be careful or you may be talking about a different mac and cheese altogether (source)
Today we’re learning the absolute basics on how to mac it yourself.
How to make Pasta Dough
Tools: whisk, bowls, plastic wrap, rolling pin
Ingredients: flour (3 parts), eggs (2 parts), salt (dash)
- whisk together flour & salt, set aside
- whisk to blend eggs, set aside
- build a well in the middle of the dry ingredients
- pour wet ingredients into middle of the well
- mix until combined
- knead until smooth
- cover & rest dough at least 10 minutes
- roll out thin & evenly (or store covered in the fridge)
- cut & form into desired pasta shape (if refrigerated, knead the dough until soft)
- boil in salted water for 3-6 minutes (al dente)
- 1 large egg = about 2 oz
- 1 cup flour = about 5 oz
- 1 cup flour : 2 large eggs = one serving pasta
How to make Cheese Sauce
Tools: sauce pan, soft spatula
Ingredients: butter, flour, milk (3 parts), cheese (2 parts)
- on medium heat – make a roux & cook for 1-2 minutes
- on low heat – gradually mix in milk to make a thin smooth sauce
- season with salt & pepper, etc.
- on medium low heat – simmer for 5-10 minutes
- on low heat – mix in cheese & melt fully (do not boil mixture)
- fold al dente pasta in immediately
- 1/2 cup milk to 1/3 cup of grated cheese in approx. one serving
- Roux is equal parts butter & flour (1 tbsp each / serving)
- Monterey Jack
- Cream Cheese
- Cottage Cheese
Add in meat like ground beef, bacon bits, bbq pulled pork & shredded chicken, or add in veggies like tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, peas, even carrots! Turn your side dish into a main meal with any of these extras.
Shoot & miss. Mix & match. Have fun with making your own Mac & Cheese.