Macaroni & Cheese

An adaptation of John Thorne’s recipe.

Tools and Ingredients

Tools needed:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Oven safe casserole dish
  • Oven

Ingredients:

AmountIngredientNotes
1 poundMacaroni noodles
4 tablespoonsUnsalted butter - melted/dicedTo be tossed with noodles
1 dashTobasco sauce or cayenne powderAdds body to cheese flavor. Add more if you want heat.
1 can (12 oz)evaporated milkMore chemically stable than regular milk so that the cheese doesn’t break
1 poundcheddar cheese - gratedCan substitute/combine with Gruyere, Gouda, and other melty/stringy cheeses.
Add some american or velveeta if you want the gooey texture that some restaurants have
2large eggs
1 teaspoonmustard
2 teaspoonssalt
2 teaspoonspepper
2 teaspoonspepper

Instructions

Prep:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • In a mixing bowl, combine:
    • tabasco, salt, peper
    • 2/3rds of the evaporated milk
    • eggs
    • mustard
    • 3/4ths of the cheese

Steps:

  1. Cook the macaroni until barely done. About 5-6 minutes, maybe 7. It will finish cooking in the oven.
  2. Strain noodles, put back in pot, and stir in the butter.
  3. Combine the contents of the mixing bowl with the noodles.
  4. Put into the casserole dish and stick in the oven for 5 minutes.
    • You’ll bake it for 15 minutes total.
    • Every 5 minutes:
      • Take the dish out
      • Mix in more of the leftover cheese
      • Mix in more of the leftover evaporated milk
  5. Take it out and enjoy.

Tips

Any cheese works for this, really.

It’ll taste delicious no matter how cheap the cheese is, which was very helpful for me as a poor college student. But if you want to go super fancy with the cheese, a combination of Gruyere, Gouda, and/or Fontina is excellent as well.

Cheese Science

On a more nerdy note, you’ll want a combination of cheeses that have a high oil content and are “stringy” (like cheddar), as well as cheeses that are “creamy” like Gouda. The oily cheddar does not melt well but has a very strong flavor. On the other hand, meltier cheeses have milder flavors but melt exceptionally well and help prevent the cheese combination from breaking.

Gluten Free

For gluten free macaroni, it’s sufficient to keep this recipe as it is but swapping out the noodles. There are, however, some hints for more success:

  • Cook the noodles for less time
  • Immediately pour cold water over the noodles before mixing with the butter
  • Expect the noodles to sort of fall apart anyway. Lower/slower heat + noodles is the worst combination for rice based noodles and things without a strong gluten-like binding agent.
  • Ultimately you will have to choose between “plain noodles with a cheese sauce on them” and a “slightly deconstructed mess of noodle bits in the shape of a cheese pile”. From exerience, the second tastes better, and is worth sacrificing the “look/texture” of mac and cheese for.

Dairy Free

This is not the recipe for you. You will be looking for something much closer to a bowl of noodles with a thin and well spiced “cheese-like” sauce poured ontop.

Variations

  • This recipe actually originally specified half a pound of noodles, so any amount of noodles between half a pound to a full pound will work just as well with this.
  • Adding in condensed milk + cheese 4 times would correspond to a cooking time of 20 minutes, which is what the original recipe states.
    • I have found no difference with this and doing it 3 times, which is 15 minutes. So I reclaim 5 minutes from my life.
    • Alternatively, at the cost of a less stable cheese, you can dump it all in at once and just cook for 10 minutes. This will not preserve in the fridge quite as well, but will taste nearly as good fresh.
  • The condensed milk is required as it makes the cheese chemically stable enough to not break without needing to be a roux style sauce.
    • The downsides of roux sauces is they add stability but at the cost of making the mac and cheese feel like alfredo noodles but with cheese and protruded pasta.
  • This may be cooked with a cast iron pan instead of using the oven.
    • Oil up the cast iron pan
    • Pour the noodles (mixed with cheese and the “sauce” bowl) into a cast iron pan
    • Cook over a stove on medium heat, stirring semi frequently, but not obsessively.
    • Add cheese/condensed milk in slowly over the course of 10-15 minutes.