Tag-Archive for ◊ side dish ◊

29 Nov 2020 Polly’s Mac n’ Cheese
Thanksgiving Dinner with Mac n’ Cheese
Christmas Party buffet with Mac n’ Cheese

Polly’s Mac n’ Cheese (YEP, I’m claiming it)

I’ve been promising to post this recipe forever, but I have held off because it’s impossible (for me anyway) to get a good picture of Mac n’ Cheese. The issue is partly Mac n’ Cheese’s fault, right? It’s just not photogenic; it’s flat, it’s monotone (just white noodles and melted cheese), and it has NO pops of color anywhere! Garnish Mac n’ Cheese? That would just look silly. So here it is, my recipe for Mac n’ Cheese, without a good picture 🙂

It’s taken a long time to perfect this recipe and there is nothing crazy about it. It’s a traditional macaroni and cheese; no fancy cheeses. No veggies, no lobster, no bacon, no truffle oil, no breadcrumbs and definitely no Flamin’ Hot Cheetos! Just elbow noodles, cheddar cheese, and a roux.

That being said, I do have ONE secret ingredient, I use some chicken broth in the sauce to add more umami, if you will, to the dish.  I use homemade chicken broth/stock/bone broth, not the processed, canned or boxed stuff. 

If you must use a commercial broth, deepen the flavor first.  Pour the broth into a pan, add some bone-in chicken (anything: a thigh, a drumstick or two, leftover carcass of a rotisserie chicken…). Then toss in a bay leaf or two, some chopped onion (with the skin), and perhaps some chopped carrot or celery (whatever you have languishing in the veggie drawer). Let the to-be-enhanced broth simmer while prepping the rest of the ingredients. Drain solids from broth and discard. Use broth as directed below.

One other tip, I wouldn’t use that pre-shredded cheese. I haven’t tasted any pre-shredded cheese that has the required sharpness, and I don’t know how all those additives used to prevent the cheese from clumping will affect the final dish.

Just for the record, Mac n’ Cheese is a side dish, never a main.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-3 cups homemade or enriched Chicken broth, heated
  • 2-3 cups whole milk, heated
  • NOTE: you need 5 cups total of liquid–use 50/50 chicken broth/milk or 60/40 or 25/75, whatever suits you or whatever fits what you have on hand.
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ¼-½ teaspoon powdered mustard (not so much for taste, but to help with emulsion)
  • 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese grated, approx. 4 cups (Ok to sub a bit of mozzarella, up to 1 cup, for some of the sharp cheddar. Also, if you have odd bits and pieces of various cheeses leftover, use them but remember that the flavor of the dish will change–and kids will object)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (chicken broth varies in saltiness, so taste the cheese sauce and add salt and pepper as needed.)
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni (cooked in generously salted water, for the shortest time mentioned on the package, rinse with cold water, and drain.)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine milk and chicken broth in a large container and microwave until hot.
  3. In a large skillet, melt butter and stir in the flour.
  4. Stirring constantly, cook the flour-butter mixture over medium heat for 3 minutes, taking care not to brown the roux.
  5. Turn off the heat under the roux.
  6. Slowly add about 1 cup of the chicken broth-milk mixture into the roux. Whisk and stir constantly until all liquid is absorbed and mixture looks homogenous and there are no lumps in the sacue. Repeat until all milk-broth mixture has been incorporated into the butter-flour mixture.
  7. Return mixture to heat and simmer gently for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Taste.  Add salt, pepper  to taste along with a small quantity of powdered mustard.
  9. Gradually add cheese a handful at a time. Stir until completely melted, then add another handful and repeat process until all cheese has been incorporated.
  10. Stir cooked elbow macaroni into cheese sauce.
  11. Pour into greased 9×13 casserole dish.
  12.  Bake in preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes. Do not overbake or cheese sauce will begin to separate.
  13.  Cool for 10 minutes or so before serving.

NOTES from experience: To make ahead, make cheese sauce and boil noodles, but store separately. Bring to room temperature. Combine. Bake as above.

I have made premade cheese sauce and frozen it , then defrosted it overnight in the refrigerator.  I do reheat the cheese sauce and whip with immersion blender before combining with boiled noodles.

OK to sprinkle extra cheese on top if you like that look.

Enjoy!