Decadent mac and cheese for comfort
Mac and cheese is one of the staple comfort foods. From the Kraft boxed version to the numerous variations of stovetop and baked. It is creamy, cheesy and filling. The basic recipe is cheap eats, as are the boxed versions.
Mac and cheese recipes date back to 14th Century Italy. There were also British versions from the same era. The recipe is pasta mixed with a mornay sauce- bechamel and cheese. Early versions were baked and eventually stovetop versions came into play. There was even a mac and cheese pie in Scotland.
Fried mac and cheese is a regular dish at various American county, street fairs, and food carts.
This stovetop recipe uses parmesan, provolone, and bleu cheese. A total of 18 ounces of cheese. I added one cup of sour cream for zip.
Normally you would make a roux to make mac and cheese. I found a trick on the Bon Appetit website that is easier, especially if you have no experience making a roux and bechamel sauce. It uses a small amount of a cornstarch slurry.
For this recipe, packaged shredded and crumbled bleu cheese works fine. Stay away from any of the aged Parmesans, as they will lend a grainy texture to the dish.
I used the traditional elbow macaroni for this. Shells would be fantastic, as the sauce gets inside and you get that extra burst of creamy cheesy flavor and texture.
The pasta water is salted and the cheeses are salty. This is one case where seasoning should definitely be adjusted to your taste at the end. I did not need to add any additional salt.
1 pound macaroni or shaped pasta (Shells, rigatoni, farfalle, penne, etc.)
1½ cup of milk or half and half
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. water (Use the hot pasta water)
6 ounces each of shredded Parmesan, provolone, and bleu cheese crumbles
1 tsp. powdered mustard
Cayenne or other hot red pepper to taste (Optional)
Bring six quarts of water to a boil. Add a hefty four-finger pinch of salt.
Add macaroni or pasta and cook one minute less than package directions for al dente.
Heat milk, sour cream, mustard, and cayenne or other hot pepper if using in a saucepan over medium heat whisking until incorporated.
When the sour cream is fully incorporated with the milk, mix the cornstarch with pasta water and add.
Raise the heat and stir until thickened.
Add the cheeses and keep stirring until they are fully melted. If the sauce is too thick, add pasta water a tablespoon at a time until it is the desired consistency.
When the pasta is cooked add to the pan and stir until all of it is coated with the sauce. Adjust the seasoning and heat (if using hot pepper).
If there are leftovers, refrigeration will thicken the sauce. Do not be tempted to add water before reheating. Reheat on the stove top or nuker. If the sauce is still too thick, add a small amount of water to thin it out.