The Secrets to Really Cheesy Mac and Cheese
There's more to it than just mixing pasta, cheese, and cream.
Mac and cheese is one of those dishes kids and adults alike absolutely love. Here are tips on how to make your next mac and cheese more ooey gooey, cheesy, and comforting.
1. Say cheese! You can use other varieties besides cheddar cheese.
Good ol' cheddar will never let you down. But to amp up the flavor and cheesiness of your mac 'n' cheese, add other varieties into the mix. Jack, Gruyere, Parmesan, Gouda are some options you can try. Fontina and mozzarella melt well, while soft cheeses like Brie and mascarpone add creaminess, too. Blue cheeses are a bit strong on their own so pair it with something creamy. For a Pinoy flair, you can try kesong puti or queso de bola (Edam). Pick two or three, then find the flavor and balance that suites your palate.
2. The secret is in the sauce.
Some may think that mac and cheese is just pasta, cheese, and probably some cream to add more liquid, but to make a really good version there is actually a French culinary technique involved.
You must make a Mornay sauce, which is basically a cheesy Bechamel. In a pot over low heat, make a roux of butter and flour. Add warm milk. Then take it off the heat and add the grated cheese to the Mornay sauce (grated cheese melts easier!). You must watch the heat because you don't want your roux to burn and your sauce to break.
Don't forget to season your sauce. It will not be complete without salt and pepper. A dash of cayenne or a sprinkling of nutmeg can also do wonders.
3. The shape of things: play around with pasta!
Elbow macaroni is the common pasta to use, but there are other shapes you can also give a try. Penne, spirals, big shells, and bow ties can all work. The ridges in pasta are perfect surface for the sauce to cling to. The nooks and crannies are perfect for holding the yummy cheesy sauce.
4. Undercook your pasta.
This is very important. Whether you're doing a stovetop mac and cheese or it baking it in the oven, cook the pasta just before it reaches al dente! Yes, it must be undercooked. Why? The rest of the cooking happens in the sauce. If you cook the pasta just right during prep time, you'll end up with a mushy blob.
5. Don't forget the toppings!
To add texture, add bread crumbs. Herbed bread crumbs add a depth of flavor, but panko can also do the trick.
Perfect the classic mac and cheese first, then you can play around with flavors and ingredients that excite you. You can add crispy bacon, ham bits, or go luxe with prosciutto and truffle oil. You can even amp it up with veggies and add squash puree into the sauce, or florets of broccoli or cauliflower. Whatever combination tickles your taste buds!
Photography by Aldwin Aspillera | Styling by Zee Castro-Talampas