Mac & Cheese
Mac & Cheese is such an all-American dish that it can seem like heresy
to mess with it. Of course, that's why I do want to mess with it. That
said, for me, the best mac & cheese has to be made from scratch, not a
box of "cheese product".
- Uncooked pasta - 2-3 cups, shell or rotini is best
- Butter - 4 tbsp
- All-purpose flour - 2 tbsp
- Milk - 2 cups, okay to sub in part of it with cream for richness
- Green chillies - 4, finely-diced (didn't see that coming, right?)
- Crushed black pepper - to taste
- Salt - to taste
- Cheddar or cheddar+parmesan - 2 cups, shredded
- Bread crumbs - 1/2 cup
- Chilli powder - 1 tsp
- Boil water for pasta. Cook it per instructions.
- In parallel, make a roux. Melt butter in a hot pan. When the butter is
melted and a bit bubbly, add flour. Keep stirring flour and butter
vigorously. Bring the flame down to medium or even a bit lower. This
flour-butter mixture is the roux. The roux will turn colour from the palest
beige to cream to tan to brown to chocolatey. You can stop the stirring
whenever you like. Deeper colour has a nuttier flavour, but greater risk of
- Add salt, pepper and finely-diced chillies to roux. Stir vigorously.
- Add milk little by little. Add one tablespoon first, stir until
smooth. Then add another 2 tbsps, stir until smooth. Keep doing this until
all the milk has been added, and the mixture is even and smooth. Increase
the flame to a bit above medium to warm it up.
- Dump the cheese in the mixture. Keep stirring until cheese has melted,
but is not separating out into oil. Turn off flame.
- Mix cheese sauce with cooked pasta.
- In a pan, heat a little bit of olive oil. Add bread crumbs, chilli
powder, dash of salt. Keep turning over until deep brown. Top pasta with
- If you wish, you can add finely-chopped spinach to cooked cheese sauce
for bright colour. Or minced rosemary to bread crumbs for flavour.
- Serve warm.