Monday, April 12, 2010
Mac+Cheese Experiment #5: Back to Mac
Last week was enormously busy between travel and sewing. I've had much less time to spend in the kitchen lately and my quest for the perfect mac + cheese - one that is cheesy and creamy without being too leaden or decadent - has been on hold. However, on Thursday, Phineas was obsessed with fried chicken, and what better to accompany it then mac + cheese? So, I headed to the kitchen for another go at it. (Oh, in case you've forgotten or are new, here is the origin of my mac + cheese craving and here is a recap of my last few tries at creating the perfect-for-me recipe.)
The Plan: Based on my last try, I decided to go with a 1:1 ratio of cheese to pasta (8 oz each), and a limited amount of butter and milk. I decided to use about 5 oz cheddar, since Phineas said he had missed it in the last batch, and about 3 oz of fontina.
The Execution: I made a butter and flour roux (just 1 tbsp of each) and added a cup of 2% milk while the pasta cooked. When it was hot, in went the cheese.
When the pasta was al dente, I drained and rinsed it, mixed in a pat of butter and then added it to the sauce.
Pasta and sauce then went into a casserole dish and I made a topping of cheese, panko breadcrumbs, parsley and butter.
Fifteen minutes in a hot (375) oven and a quick blast under the broiler left the mac + cheese bubbly and brown on top.
The Results: Hmm, well, not exactly what I was hoping for. It was not cheesy or flavorful enough. And, surprisingly, it was a bit grainy. Usually rinsing the pasta takes care of that. Don't get me wrong, this was a pretty good mac + cheese, but it was average - not the cheesy gooey-ness that I had envisioned. Also, I think a cup of milk just makes too much sauce. So, I am going to scale that back.
I'm wondering if what I am missing is chunks of cheese. What I may have to do is make the sauce, and then stir in a few chunks of cheese so that there are gooey pockets - like my very first attempt. Stay tuned. The next version of this heart attack on a plate will be in the near future.
Oh, and tomorrow and the rest of the week, I will begin to reveal the Christening ensemble, which is nearly done!