Making Macaroni & Cheese
This post goes out to NostalgiaFairydust, who made a foodwish for Mac & Cheese.
That’s right. I finally located the treasure that is Panko bread crumbs.I’ve been looking for it everywhere but have never found it.
Why is Panko such a big deal, you ask? Well because it’s basically gold when it comes to crumb coated food, be it fried or oven-baked. You can always try making your own (like what I had to resort to doing in the past), but it will never quite rival the real thing because Panko is made from bread baked by passing an electric current through the dough, yielding bread without crusts, and it has a crisper, airier texture than most types of bread.
The bread is then processed in such a way that the resulting panko look like flakes rather than crumbs. If you dredge food in panko before frying, you will end up with a crisp, light fried coating because oil does not soak into panko as readily as it does into regular breadcrumbs, so you are left with a lighter, less-greasy coating.
Korean characters and Ebi-Fry on the packet!
I found it while I was out shopping in a smaller supermarket that’s closer to my house and when I did, well, let’s just say I was very excited. Almost as excited as my first time going into ACE hardware and looking at the all the cooking utensils they have. And then the sister just had to burst my bubbles by saying “Oh? have you been looking for that? I saw it at *name of the place I usually shop at for ingredients* near the microwave popcorns.” Well sheesh.
Now let’s talk about the Mac & Cheese. I know, I know, TL;DR, but no one’s putting a gun to your head so you can just scroll down and skip all this writing, but let me just say that I made a batch of M&C and topped it with two versions of topping - one that requires an oven and one that doesn’t, because it’s not really fair for those who don’t have one to miss out on it.
“CLASSIC” MACARONI & CHEESE (adapted from the recipe by Chef John of Foodwishes.com)
[ 1lb elbow macaroni + 2 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheese of your choice (you can also use a combination of cheeses) + 1/4 cup butter + 1/4 cup flour + 3 cups cold milk + 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper + 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce + 1 teaspoon salt + a pinch of grated nutmeg + 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs + 1 tablespoon butter, melted + 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cheese of your choice (I’m using aged Mozarella because I like the stringy stuff) ]
Cook the pasta according to the instruction on the package. While you do that, make the sauce.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
When you see that it’s starting to foam and bubble and hear it sizzle, add in the flour while whisking. Cook this on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
Then pour in the first cup of cold milk and whisk to prevent any lumps forming. Then add in the rest of the milk and let it simmer on medium heat. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes while stirring often until it thickens.
Then turn off the heat and add in the grated cheese and stir until all of it has melted into the sauce.
Make sure the pasta is well drained before adding the cheese sauce. Stir or toss to coat and then put it in a casserole dish.
Put a layer of cheese on top.
Combine the panko with the melted butter and then sprinkle that on top of the cheese.
Bake it in a 400F oven until the top is browned and crispy.
Let cool for 3-5 mnutes and then serve.
Now if you don’t have an oven, then make this minute alteration to the recipe above.
STOVE TOP MACARONI & CHEESE (adapted from the recipe by Chef John of Foodwishes.com)
[ 1lb elbow macaroni + 2 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheese of your choice (you can also use a combination of cheeses) + 1/4 cup butter + 1/4 cup flour + 3 cups cold milk + 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper + 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce + 1 teaspoon salt + a pinch of grated nutmeg + 1/4 cup Potato chips, roughly crushed (the flavour is up to you) + 1/4 cup regular bread crumbs + 1 tablespoon butter ]
Cook the macaroni & cheese in the same way as above, but instead of Panko breadcrumbs and cheese, take a skillet and heat the butter before adding the crushed potato chips and breadcrumbs. Sautee until crispy and use this as a topping instead.
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