Friday, August 20, 2010

Stove Top Mac & Cheese

Who didn't have the neon orange Kraft macaroni and cheese as a kid? While some might find it gross, I actually really like(d) it. My mom used to turn it into "tuna mac" by adding a can of cream of mushroom and a can of tuna. She would even go the extra step to bake it in the oven with some French's fried onions on top. Yummy! I've made tuna mac for Wes, but left out the onions for obvious reasons.

I've tried baked macaroni with a twist and have seen a ton of recipes for baked mac & cheese. Until I stumbled upon Alton Brown's Stove Top Mac & Cheese. A non-baked version! I had to try it out.

Stove Top Mac and Cheese

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
4 Tb. butter
2 eggs
6 oz. evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
10 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot an melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper and mustard. I let this mixture sit out next to the hot eye on the stove so the eggs aren't super cold when they hit the pasta. You could also bring your eggs to room temperature. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

No neon orange "cheese" here!

Does that not look WAY better than the boxed mac and cheese? And oh boy was it yummy! Cheddar cheese deliciousness in every bite. If sharp cheddar is too sharp for you, try a mild cheddar or a combo of the two.

I doubled the recipe because we have a house guest who is a bottomless stomach. So I needed enough to feed him and have some for lunch tomorrow. A huge loaf of garlic bread helped to ensure we had leftovers for the next day. So my experience with the flavors might be a little different since I didn't double the amount of evaporated milk and mustard. But it still turned out really, really good.

And can I say how easy, easy, EASY this was? One pot and a bowl to clean. I love it! Almost as easy as making it from the box. Don't skip the hot sauce. It actually adds a nice, very faint, background zing. And don't ask me what the evaporated milk does. My only guess is that it helps the creaminess of the dish.

Now with the eggs, there is a concern of the eggs curdling while mixing with the hot pasta. So if you end up with a not so creamy dish at the end, you'll know that your eggs cooked a little in the pot. The way to remedy that? You can rinse the pasta under cold water after draining to cool them off and keep the stove on low heat, heat up the egg mixture near the stove so it's not so cold, and best of all, keep stirring the mixture. If you let the bottom sit for a few minutes, some of the eggs will most likely cook. I noticed it on mine a little, but it didn't hurt the texture of the dish so much that I noticed.

The one thing I hated about boxed mac and cheese? The leftovers were disgusting. I had the same fear with this dish. While it wasn't as ooey, gooey, cheesy as the night before, it didn't get as rough of a texture as I thought it might. Good enough for lunch leftovers the next day!

So good and easy. You can't go back to box mac and cheese after this. Although, for the price, I might slip in one or two.

Happy cooking!

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