Auros (auros) wrote,

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Mac and cheese question...

So, we redid the macaroni and cheese recipe, to use up the other half of the bag of macaroni. We used nearly a pound of cheese total -- about eight ounces of mild cheddar, four of asiago fresco, and two of a really strong aged asiago. We reduced the liquid from 3c to just a smidge over 2c -- about 1.75 skim milk and a little over 0.25 half-and-half -- which resulted in macaroni held together as a near-solid caserrole, with noticably stringy cheese, rather than basically being macaroni in a thick cheese sauce. I also tried mitrian's suggestion of adding a tiny amount of baking soda to the roux; I used a quarter teaspoon. It did not affect the flavor, and while I don't know for certain whether the low-moisture sauce would've caused the egg and cheese proteins to seize out into curds, upon reheating, I do know that this batch does not do that. So, yay for that. (We also used four strips of bacon, instead of a sausage; the bacon provided enough rendered fat that I was able to cut the 3 Tbs of butter roughly in half. And I added some sage, along with the other spices.) Personally, I thought this was basically perfect -- best mac'n'cheese I've ever had.

However, Christa still thinks the cheese should be even more stringy. I am uncertain as to how this could be achieved without making the resulting casserole "good for one night only". With most cheeses (and especially cheddar and any of the aged cheeses we usually use for their strong flavors -- cono beemster, piave vechhio, asiago, etc) melting them without emulsifying agents (like the roux and egg in the recipe) results in protein curds, sitting in a puddle of oil. That is not tasty, IMHO. I suppose I could just go to cheeses that reheat better, like mozzarella, provolone, and maybe a young-ish fontina, emmenthal, or gruyere. That's the choice you often see made for baked ziti or lasagna. But is there some way to get a really stringy, cheesy result, without sacrificing the aged hard-cheese flavor?

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