Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

Time for another food post. My apologies to anyone trying to diet cause I'm about to wreck your shit.

Ok, so I make a pretty badass macaroni and cheese. It's my mom's recipe however I have tinkered with it over the years and I think I've come up with a version that kicks nine different types of ass. My family loves it and I have brought it into work and been told on multiple occasions that is the the best macaroni and cheese that the person eating it has ever had. Now, I'm sure there's some polite exaggeration going on there, but I can be pretty critical about my own food, more than anyone else, and I'm here to tell you that this stuff is the shit. Given that I have nothing else to write about, I have decided to share this awesome recipe with you. You are truly blessed.

Before we get started, I want to point out that you are, of course, free to make this recipe however you choose, however if you decide to use fat free cheese or low carb multigrain pasta, please don't tell people that you got your recipe from me because I don't want my name associated with your nasty ass cardboad glop. This recipe has a lot of fat and a lot of carbs and it tastes fucking awesome. If you're on a diet, just eat less of it. Share it with your coworkers, freeze it for later, do whatever you need to so that you don't consume half of the batch in one sitting, but don't go messing with the ingredients. This ain't Cooking Light.

Secondly, this recipe uses Velveeta which I'm sure will cause griping among the more high falutin' of my readers, but the truth is that Velveeta melts up smooth as silk and when you're making macaroni and cheese, the last thing you want is some messy combination of half melted cheese and cheddar oil. I know because I've made just that. So bite the bullet, buy the Velveeta and try not to ask too many questions about what the hell is in it.

Finally, this recipe doesn't have an exact amount for some ingredients so you're just going to have to experiment. Honestly, this is how I got mine to be as tasty as it is, so don't sweat the small details too much. As long as you follow the basic template you'll end up with something that will smack the taste from your mouth and have every person you've ever desired longing for a one way trip to your tingly, naughty regions.

Cooking spray
2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 16oz block of Velveeta (remember, no hatin')
1 8 oz bag shredded Colby and Monterey Jack blend
1 8 oz bag finely shredded Mozzarella (if you want to go with an Italian cheese blend here, that would work too, I'll switch between the two depending on mood)
Butter (about half a stick, and notice I said butter and not margarine)
Black pepper

1. Cook the macaroni according to package directions, draining well once done. You want them to be just a hair shy of done so that they're nice and firm when the cook among the cheeses. Do not, I repeat, do not let them get overcooked as the resulting loss of texture makes for a bit of a mess in the final product. It still tastes ok, but it's more of a macroni and cheese pudding at that point.

2. Preheat the oven to 375. If your oven has heating elements at the top and bottom, arrange the rack so that the dish will be lower in the oven. More on that later.

3. Coat a 2 qt (mine is a 2.5 L) casserole dish with cooking spray. Whoever does the dishes will thank you later. Mine is round, not sure if that makes a difference.

4. Divide the Velveeta into three equal sections and then slice the sections up into eight or ten equally sized pieces. I usually slice crosswise and then slice that slice lengthwise.

5. You're going to be layering everything in the casserole dish, making three layers total so when you start sprinkling the shredded cheese and putting down noodles, keep in mind that you'll have three layers of it. It's not absolutely crucial as you will stir the whole thing up half way through the cooking time, but still. Ok, so the basic layering strategy is to do the following:
  • Layer of noodles
  • Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour all over the noodles.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of pepper on the flour
  • Dot the noodles with chunks of butter (about 1 - 2 TBL divided up into five or six total pieces)
  • Put the chunks of Velveeta on top of the noodles whereever there isn't butter. You want things to be relatively even so if you find that you don't have enough pieces, just break up what you have with your fingers and do your thing
  • Sprinkle one type of shredded cheese on top
  • Sprinkle another type of shredded cheese on top
  • Repeat for the next two layers
When you're done you should have a casserole dish that weighs about eighteen pounds.

6. Pour milk into the casserole dish so that it comes up about 1/4 the height of the dish. I usually slide a knife down the inside edge of the dish and push the mixture away from the dish to see how far the milk has come up. The milk will take a second to settle, so if you don't see it immediately, don't go pouring a ton of milk in there. Take it slow as too much milk will turn this thing into soup.

7. Put the dish in the oven for 30 minutes.

8. Once 30 minutes is up, stir the whole thing. If you have heating elements at the top of your oven, move the rack so that your dish is higher up in the oven. This allows the crust to brown up and get nice and crunchy.

9. Put the dish back in oven for 30 more minutes.

10. If your oven only has top heating elements that turn on when the broiler is on, feel free to put the thing under the broiler for a few minutes to brown up the top but it isn't necessary.

11. Take out and let it sit for five minutes while your stomach does backflips over the glorious mounds of pasta and cheese you're about to deposit in it.

12. Serve and enjoy.

That's it. Pretty simple, right? If you want to spread things out over two nights you can either make the whole thing up the night before and then put it in the oven or you can make the noodles up the night before and then assemble and bake the next day. If you make the whole thing up the day before and refrigerate the uncooked dish, you will have to adjust your cooking time to account for the fact that everything is cold. Nothing to do there but just experiment and be flexible with your dinner time. Drinking helps.

When you stir the dish at the halfway mark you'll notice that a lot of the velveeta chunks won't have melted. That's ok. Stirring is very important as otherwise you run the risk of having too much cheese in one layer, and not enough in the other. Also, don't worry if it looks really soupy at this point. Even if you put too much milk in, it will thicken up a bunch as it cooks for the next half an hour. It will also thicken up some as it cools. For those that like a crumb topping, and I don't know why you would, but it's not my place to say, put the topping on after you stir it as you don't want crumbs mixed in with the whole thing, nor do you want them to burn.

Give it a try, let me know how it turns out. Feel free to share it with others. Go forth my cheese loving minions and enjoy!


Mister Bones said...

You know I love the recipe posts! The kiddos love them some mac and cheese, so I'll be giving this a shot soon. Thanks!

Nick said...

We made this -- and there was much rejoicing. I was a bit worried when I realized that Velveeta doesn't need to be refrigerated, like some government created super-cheese. I was a bit more worried when it looked like the ingredients were going to overflow from my 2qt casserole dish. I though maybe they measured quarts a bit differently in the ATL. But everything settled down in the oven and it came out great!

Brandon said...

Glad you liked it. Yeah, I should have mentioned that it will look like things won't fit. I really should write these things up while I'm cooking to catch all of these little details.