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Thu Jan 23, 2020, 02:18 PM

Obsessed with mac and cheese

Every now and then, usually in January, I become obsessed with perfecting one or another recipe. This year, Iím looking for the perfect slow-cooker mac and cheese, and am making it until I find the perfect recipe.

My rules:

Must start with dry pasta because Iím not pre-cooking pasta.

No Velveeta or fake cheese.

No evaporated milk. Many online recipes call for evaporated milk, but I donít usually have it on hand.

Youíd be surprised at how many recipes out there curdle, turn mushy, or just donít taste very good. Iím just this moment tasting a rather dismal batch, which I will throw out and try again.

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Obsessed with mac and cheese (Original post)
spinbaby Jan 2020 OP
unblock Jan 2020 #1
irisblue Jan 2020 #2
MontanaMama Jan 2020 #3
Auggie Jan 2020 #4
Bayard Jan 2020 #5
Major Nikon Jan 2020 #6
spinbaby Jan 2020 #7
Blue_true Jan 2020 #12
Major Nikon Jan 2020 #13
yellowdogintexas Feb 2020 #14
Major Nikon Feb 2020 #17
Laura PourMeADrink Jan 2020 #8
yellowdogintexas Feb 2020 #16
Laura PourMeADrink Feb 2020 #18
dem in texas Jan 2020 #9
yellowdogintexas Feb 2020 #15
Cairycat Jan 2020 #10
Blue_true Jan 2020 #11

Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 02:27 PM

1. first thing i learned to cook and still my go-to comfort food.

my father taught me his velveeta recipe, plus butter and milk.

i've shifted over the years, but now actually like annie's whole wheat organic shells. i'll add veggies like broccoli, peas, carrots, cauliflower, edamame. i'll also usually spice it up, sometimes just cracked pepper, but often i'll make a sort of curry out of it, with turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, etc.

i don't use velveeta anymore as i'm off the taste, but actually adding just one slice to some other cheese sauce can work wonders for the mouth-feel without spoiling the taste. all those emulsifiers, yum....


oh, and olive oil instead of butter. took some getting used to at first but now i love it.

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 02:28 PM

2. IMO, The blue box& fish sticks or with cubed ham are a trip to childhood. 😁

A roux, sharp and mild cheddar mix and baked for Sunday dinners with adults.


What have you done so far?


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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 02:38 PM

3. I also find myself obsessed with perfecting

a particular dish. While at the moment, I'm on an Asian honey walnut shrimp bender, perfect mac and cheese is a worthy quest!

Okay, I read your rules. The bar is clearly high! I agree that so many recipes are crap and I feel like I've tried them all too. If I can break just one of your rules...hear me out... I found this recipe: https://divascancook.com/southern-baked-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe/ and while you have to cook the pasta, the rest of the ingredients can be assembled while the water boils.

Also...this recipe calls for velveeta - not much - but the author give you free reign to leave it out. She also swears by smoked cheddar. I don't care for smoked cheddar in mac & cheese so I leave that out. I substitute a sprinkle of smoked paprika on the top to get that smoky flavor. This recipe is the real deal. It is creamy, doesn't curdle AND bonus...leftovers warm up beautifully.

I enjoyed the back story the author includes about mac & cheese being a staple on the tables of African American family holiday celebrations. More importantly, not anybody can just bring it to a dinner...one must be assigned the honor of making it. That honor only comes from making the best mac & cheese - proven over time. I was fascinated by this.

So, give this a read. I've made it at least a dozen times. Change it up to your liking and go from there. You might even be able to add uncooked pasta if you upped the liquid portion of the ingredients. Keep us posted.

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 02:59 PM

4. I like adding a vegetable like sweetpotatoes

In addition to cheese, does not replace. It's not "classic," but it sure is better for you. This recipe is terrific: https://www.casweetpotatoes.com/recipe/2018/9/30/healthier-tastier-creamier-sweetpotato-mac-and-cheese

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 04:11 PM

5. I have never been able to duplicate my grandmother's

Best ever!

Very creamy cheesy (real cheese), but also had something added that put some crumbles to it, especially on top. She's been gone many years, so can't ask her.

I like Stouffers!

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 06:27 PM

6. Here's a tip

The problem you have with melting so-called ďrealĒ cheese is it tends to separate unless thereís some sort of binder used. Corn starch is what I use most often. After I have shredded the cheese I coat it with corn starch. This will avoid the separation part, which will be an even bigger problem if you are trying to cook everything together.

The aversion many people have to velveeta is nonsense marketing by the so-called ďrealĒ cheese industry and those who are afraid of ingredients that have names they donít understand. The funny part is most of those same people donít know what rennet is and if they did they might not want to eat ďrealĒ cheese again.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 23, 2020, 07:02 PM

7. I've used Velveeta

It does make acceptable mac and cheese. If you look over the ingredients in Velveeta, though, youíll find it doesnít actually contain cheese. One thing it does contain is sodium citrate, which relaxes milk protein so it doesnít curdle. Iíve made the modernist mac and cheese recipe from Serious Eats, which uses sodium citrate to prevent curdling, but is rather gluey for my taste. I think sodium citrate may be the secret to good mac and cheese in a slow cooker.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 25, 2020, 11:27 PM

12. Neat idea coating the shredded cheese with cornstarch,

never considered the ducttape of the kitchen for that purpose.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #12)

Sat Jan 25, 2020, 11:43 PM

13. Most any starch will work

I suppose you could use wheat or rice flour if you were out of cornstarch. Arrowroot is a good choice, but I don't always have it. You just need something to bind the dairy components together after the cheese melts. Velveeta and processed cheeses already contain binders which is why they don't separate.

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Response to Major Nikon (Reply #13)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 09:54 PM

14. using a roux to melt your cheese in would accomplish the same thing

my daughter makes amazing and extremely unhealthy Mac & cheese. LOL
Roux, cream, 4 kinds of cheese.....and it is crazy good

the first holiday meal she shared with her Kurdish/Iranian in laws, she make a decadent mac and cheese. Now she can't show up without it.

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Response to yellowdogintexas (Reply #14)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 11:16 PM

17. That is essentially what mornay sauce is

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Fri Jan 24, 2020, 03:12 PM

8. Do you use eggs? Remember the very best recipe

that had eggs in it and I loved it. Don't like separation of course but prefer mac and cheese with ingredients more "Separated" if that makes sense. Vs. a blended sauce.

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Response to Laura PourMeADrink (Reply #8)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 10:05 PM

16. that would be the mac and cheese I grew up eating

Layer of cheese, macaroni and some milk running loose in the bottom of the dish. Like soup

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Response to yellowdogintexas (Reply #16)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 01:09 AM

18. Yes, but with egg thoroughly mixed in milk.

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Fri Jan 24, 2020, 03:25 PM

9. What's the big deal about Mac N Cheese?

Now that there is only me and my old boy at home, I buy Stouffer's Mac n Cheese. Back when I was cooking for a whole house full, I made it from scratch fairly often. So simple, great way to use cheese that has been hanging around for too long.

Here is how I made it, didn't use a recipe. Made a basic cream sauce (butter, flour, milk)-, let thicken, stir in grated cheddar (about 2 cups); sharp is best. Boil up some elbow mac, drain the mac and stir in the cheese sauce, pour into buttered baking dish, top with grated bread crumbs, bake in hot oven until browned on top.

I didn't use any measurements because I'd made this recipe for so many years, didn't need a recipe. I'd season the cheese sauce with black pepper and a few shakes of Tabasco sauce. You can look up a recipe for basic cream sauce on line or look any American cookbook.

if I had other cheeses in the fridge; Swiss, Monterrey, American etc, I would throw that in too.

I am 80 years old and I can remember eating mac n cheese in the 40's and 50's. At that time the mac and cheese dish would be layered - layer of mac, layer of cream sauce, layer of cheese , etc. it wasn't until the 1960's when Kraft Cheese mac and cheese in the blue box came out that the layered dish went away. I do like the cheese added to the cream sauce best, but both ways are mighty tasty.

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Response to dem in texas (Reply #9)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 09:55 PM

15. my mom and granny would take the cooked macaroni,

put it in a deep dish, butter it, pour over some milk and cover the top with sliced cheddar cheese.

Sometimes it was soupy and sometimes it wasn't but it was good

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Fri Jan 24, 2020, 10:19 PM

10. I don't use a slow cooker but

we have an electric pressure cooker recipe that we really like. It does use evaporated milk (easy enough to keep on hand) but the key is real cheese, but shredded at home. The pre-shredded stuff has something to keep it from sticking together, that makes it not melt well and bind with the macaroni. I would expect that to be the case using a slow cooker, as well.

Favorite recipe for the electric pressure cooker: https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/pressure-cooker-macaroni-and-cheese/

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Response to spinbaby (Original post)

Sat Jan 25, 2020, 11:21 PM

11. I wonder.

How do you think using the coconut milk from healthfood stores and Swiss cheese instead of cheddar would work? I tried the coconut milk instead of cream for ice cream and it was surprisingly good.

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