Recipe 1: Stove Top Mac-N-Cheese

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)

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

Here's my dinner

Verdict: 2/5

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.

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2 Comments on “Recipe 1: Stove Top Mac-N-Cheese”

  1. Maybe more than one cheese would have kicked it up a bit.

    Personal preference, I would have subbed paprika for the hot sauce and used mozz, sharp cheddar and maybe munster. I love goopy (the good kind), stringy cheese.

    Definitely if it is lacking, herbs can take it up a notch without adding more salt (or maybe using a special salt like smoked or something instead of the regular table or kosher). And I agree with your hubs, sausage and or bacon makes everything better!

    Great going, I would have never thought to do mac and cheese for a year. Good luck!

    PS, if you need some inspiration, Houston has it’s own mac and cheese restaurant that you could check the descriptions to recreate at home. Personal faves, The Hangover and Buffalo Chicken. (JusMac.com)

    • Lex says:

      Thanks for the suggestions of cheese blends; not being a professional chef myself, sometimes combos don’t come easily to me. And while I love herbs/spices (such an easy way to change the flavor of anything!), I have never really experimented with different salts – but it’s certainly something I’ll try! I’ll also be checking out that website as well – if only I lived near Houston to check out that restaurant myself (though who knows if they’d have gluten-free noodles or not).

      And thanks for the encouragement! 🙂


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