ideas in food’s macaroni cheese

macaroni cheese is one of my favourite comfort foods but i only make it occasionally, not least because david is not a fan. i’ve been thinking about it quite a bit over the past few months and have come across a few interesting and different ways of making it.

until recently i assumed all macaroni cheese was generally made the same way – a roux-based white sauce, to which cheese and possibly other flavourings are added. apparently not. in america a very common way to make “mac n cheese” is to make an egg based custard rather than a white sauce. it seems that this results in a firmer texture and a more intensely cheesy flavour, although i’ve also seen people say it can have a slight eggy flavour.

and then there is ideas in food’s method which involves pre-soaking the pasta so it needs very little cooking liquid/time and making the cheese sauce from evaporated milk, butter and cheese. lots of cheese. the aim is to create a very pure cheese flavour without the distractions of flour, milk, eggs etc.

i decided to give the ideas in food method a try and made this single portion with a quarter of their recipe.

you need to trust the recipe – the pasta is soaked for an hour and when i looked at the amount of evaporated milk to which butter and cheese are added i really didn’t think there would be enough sauce for the pasta. but it was fine. very quick and easy to pull together too. it was also more than enough - this is a very rich dish. i only managed to eat half of it. it was like eating melted cheese in which cooked pasta had been suspended – i’ll leave you to decide if this is a good thing or not!

it is all about the cheese and so as long as you have good cheese – i used a mix that was leftover from a cheeseboard – it will be delicious. just very rich. i don’t know if i’ll make this again unless it’s as a side dish and tiny portions are all that is needed.

i’m going to try the egg version of macaroni cheese next.

ideas in food’s macaroni cheese  (serves 1)

115g dried elbow macaroni

37g unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

85ml evaporated milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

140g cheese, grated

15g coarse fresh bread crumbs (i didn’t bother with these)

12g grated parmesan cheese

10g unsalted butter, melted (i didn’t bother with this)

put the macaroni in a large bowl and cover with water. let the pasta soak for

an hour, stirring occasionally then drain it and use as follows. it will finish cooking in the sauce.turn the overhead grill* on low. butter a baking dish. put the butter, evaporated milk, salt, and cayenne pot over medium heat. when the butter is melted and the milk is just steaming, slowly stir in the grated cheese, handful by handful, until it is incorporated and evenly melted. when the sauce is made, stir in the soaked macaroni and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. the pasta will absorb some sauce and the mixture will thicken slightly.

pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly. in a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese; sprinkle them over the pasta. drizzle with the melted butter. put the pan on under the grill and grill the pasta for 5 minutes. when the topping is golden brown, remove the and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

*aka broiler, if you are in america