As I mentioned on Tuesday, I am in Canada for work and objected to my family thinking they could get away with eating nothing but boxed macaroni and cheese and pizza for the time I am gone. I don’t object to macaroni and cheese. But there are better things out there than Kraft Dinner (did you catch the Canadian reference?) I mean, if I had a million dollars, I would still eat Kraft dinner (Hey, it’s a Barenaked Ladies reference and I’m in Canada. Isn’t it ironic? (whoa, sub-shout out to Alanis)). So while I am dining on poutine and sipping my Tim Horton’s (Sorry (with a long O sound) for all of you that aren’t), you can try out these mac and cheese recipes to see if “Best” is really better than that which is not labeled “best”.
In the macaroni and cheese world (and in the subsection of the world that is my household) there are a lot of opinions about what makes good macaroni and cheese. Some people prefer a baked macaroni and cheese and some people prefer a stovetop one. The creaminess of processed cheese is a crowd pleaser among certain people, while others tend toward a more sophisticated palate. There are macaroni and cheese restaurants opening up across America because people can’t get enough of this classic comfort food (especially these days…).
I tried out two of my vintage recipes for macaroni and cheese. One is called simply “Macaroni and Cheese” and the other is “Best Macaroni and Cheese”.
I made the Best Macaroni and Cheese first. It’s a custard based (meaning the recipe calls for an egg and milk mixture) macaroni and cheese. It calls for baking in a waterbath. There is no crunchy topping. I did not add the MSG in the recipe because not only does no one need that kind of headache, I don’t keep any in the house (can you even buy it any more?) I also doubled the recipe because we had guests for dinner. One of our young friends thoroughly enjoyed the dish until he found out there were eggs in it. He doesn’t like eggs. I thought it was ok. Not the best recipe I’ve ever had, but not the worst. I think it might’ve been better if I’d used a smaller pan to cook it in. It allows the custard and cheese to melt together better. This dish also didn’t call for any butter. Butter makes things better. By contrast, the simpler named, simpler prepared Macaroni and Cheese was an overall more satisfying dish. While also custard based, it did not require a water bath to cook. There were few ingredients, but the addition of bread crumbs created a more interesting dish.
My older son didn’t prefer any of these dishes because he doesn’t like baked macaroni and cheese. He’s wrong. The girl just wanted bacon and croutons on hers. (I don’t know…this is the same kid that had the ideas about Shrimp and Olive pie). The middle one ate plenty of each and would eat either again. But the lesson to be learned here is that best isn’t always better (even when it comes to words).
Obvious ways to change this up are changing the type of cheese used, put in additives like bacon or broccoli. Create fun and crunchy toppings out of cornflakes, bread crumbs, potato chips, or whatever.
And before anyone asks, yes, that’s Grandma’s dish that the macaroni and cheese is in. I love it. Every time I use it for food, it makes me happy.