If you’re on one of those “New Year, New You” diets, you may want to just pin this recipe and revisit at a later time. I’m not here to ruin your diet, cleanse, or any other nutrition kick you’re on at the moment. I’m just here to share a recipe for macaroni and cheese that changed the way I feel about macaroni and cheese. The original recipe, by the renowned James Beard, involves equal parts butter and flour to create a roux.
a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.
Prior to this recipe, I would make a batch of mac for Ktams because he loves it so, and I would refuse to eat any of the leftovers because I’m not a fan of the texture of recooked mac and cheese. If I’m going to eat cheesy pasta, it’s got to have a great texture, even if it’s the second time I’m cooking them. We had heard recently about adding potato chips to give a bigger crunch than breadcrumbs. My favorite chips, Kettle Salt & Pepper came immediately to mind and once we received a Tillamook cheese care package one afternoon, Ktams decided it was time. The recipe that he made for us used two pounds of Tillamook’s delicious cheddar cheese (one block extra sharp and one block aged cheddar). It turns out a 1:1 roux with the butter and flour in a mac and cheese recipe gives you an upper hand when it comes to reheating the batch. More on that in a moment–
This mac and cheese recipe was the best I’ve had. Ever. It’s simple. The added Kettle chips on top gave it the crunch factor I had been yearning for, and the noodles we used were a bit more unconventional and fun. In the future I hope to make this recipe again with chicken or broccoli or bacon or peas.
The Spicy Bee Takes on James Beard Mac and Cheese
(Adapted from Cookstr)
4 T butter
4 T flour
2 c milk
3/4 t Tabasco
1/2 c heavy cream or crème fraîche
3/4 lb Tillamook cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 lb pipe rigate (or macaroni) noodles, made per boxed instructions
8 oz of Andouille sausage, chopped
1-2 c Kettle Brand Kettle Chips, crumbled (as desired)
Start by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, and stir it with a wooden spoon or spatula for around 3 minutes, until the roux froths. Heat the milk in a separate pan. Add the warm milk gradually to the roux, whisking continuously. Turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is just at the boiling point. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes.
Add the pepper and Tabasco. The original recipe notes 1/2 t Tabasco, however they encourage you to use more if you’d like, as it doesn’t so much add heat as it does bring out the flavor of the cheese. I’ve increased the amount by half. Stir in the heavy cream or crème fraîche and simmer 2-3 minutes.
Cook and drain the pasta.
Integrate three-quarters of the cheese into the sauce while it simmers. Once it’s melted, combine it with the drained pasta, and pour it into a baking pan. Stir in sausage. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, and bake for 30 minutes in a 350° oven or until golden on top. Remove from oven and serve, topping each bowl with chips as desired.
We doubled the above recipe and it fed us for a couple (glorious!) days. The original recipe will serve 4-5.
Now for the part that will change your life–when you make a recipe with a 1:1 roux like this one, reheating is a dream as all you need to do is add milk one tablespoon at a time to the mixture as you enter the middle of the reheating process. I tested this both at home on the stove, in our toaster oven, and at work in the microwave. All three tests yielded warm, gooey perfection. This is because the ratio as it is will allow the oils that have separated to be re-incorporated into the sauce. It’s practically a magic trick. Impress your friends!
The pictures are from day two of leftovers, which I made in the toaster oven–the chips were added prior to bake and they browned beautifully.