Recipe 1: Stove Top Mac-N-CheesePosted: January 4, 2012
And so this mad endeavor begins. I wanted to start with something simple, so I looked at a few options and went with this recipe from the Food Network website. Though I confess that there was an underlying reason: It is an Alton Brown recipe.
My husband, “Loverman,” is a big Alton Brown fan. Like bordering on fan-boy. Of the few things he added to our wedding registry, three of them were Alton Brown books; when he received them, he read them cover to cover, studious as any scholar. When Alton Brown gives a recipe for a dish, my husband tends to take it as gospel. So it was I thought starting out with such a dish might start us off on a good note:
Stove Top Mac-N-Cheese (from Food Network)
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used quinoa pasta)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 6 ounces evaporated milk
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (I accidentally used table salt. Oops)
- Fresh black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese (Note: Be sure to do this little by little, or else you get a big glob that won’t really melt. I have made that mistake before). Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy. Serves 6 to 8.
Oh, Alton. I wanted to believe it could be so easy. Sure, it was easy to put it all together – boiling the water was probably the longest part of the whole process, during which I grated the cheese – but this left me thoroughly underwhelmed. The flavors weren’t all that bad per se, but they weren’t terribly interesting either – very one-note, bland. We have several leftovers, but I don’t see either of us eating them without adding something to it. When I asked the hubz what he thought, he gave a half-hearted “It was OK” before adding his suggestion for improvement: “Sausage,” which tends to be his go-to suggestion to improve any vegetarian dish (well, meat in general). Actually, I think maybe a spicy sausage, a chorizo perhaps, would add a much needed variation to an otherwise meh dish.
So much for starting off with a bang. Maybe another recipe soon, partly to wash away this defeat, but secondly because it doesn’t seem a bad idea to frontload this challenge a bit – one, because I can slack some weeks, but secondly it’s much more enjoyable to eat a gooey mac and cheese in the chilly winter versus the humid summer… Yeah, I should have thought of that before.
Update! We had the leftovers tonight! We added a little bit of andouille and ketchup (yes, ketchup), and my husband added hot sauce. We felt these were marked improvements over the original. With these changes, I’d change the rating to 3/5.