Before I start rhapsodizing about cheese-covered macaroni, I want to give you all a heads up. Yoyo gave me a widget specially for all you Cupcake Rehab readers (it’s over there to the right, below the ads). Using the code ‘CUPCAKEREHAB’ is good for 20% off all her merchandise! I know, right? And ’tis the season for buying presents; especially handmade presents, because I think giving someone you love something that is made with love is always more special than a gift card. Although I do love me some gift cards. Anyway get your butts over there and buy some stuff, get 20% off, and be jolly. Ho, ho, ho.
Oh, macaroni & cheese. How I love thee. I have made so many variations of macaroni & cheese, it’s kind of crazy. Well no, not kind of, it really is. I’ve made buffalo chicken macaroni & cheese, garlic & herb macaroni & cheese, macaroni & cheese with cayenne, three cheese mac-n-cheese, mac-n-cheese with broccoli, plus a version of Ina Garten’s macaroni & cheese. But it’s one of my favorite foods, so I can’t really help it. And of course, it’s perfect comfort food for chilly weather- or downright cold weather. And despite making so many different kinds and variations, I have never made a Paula Deen recipe. INSANITY! So in my search for another recipe I happened upon this. If you didn’t know, Paula’s restaurant is called Lady & Sons, so of course her macaroni & cheese is called “The Lady’s Mac-n-Cheese.” The Lady does some things differently than I, so I tweaked it a bit. The original recipe can be found here.
Om nom nom nom…
Before I get to that, though, I want to talk about a new product I tried recently. You may have seen the commercials for it on television: Kraft Homestyle Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese. The premise of this is that it’s oven-baked, or rather, it can be… and it’s topped with bread crumbs. I was intrigued, and being a mac-n-cheese addict decided to try it. I bought the “Four-Cheese” variety; made with “Parmesan, Colby, Asagio and Cheddar.” I paid about $3.29 for one 12.6 ounce package. I planned on feeding three people with it, and it said it held 4 servings, so I went with it. Well… no. It doesn’t quite feed three adults, so forget about it if you have kids. Maybe two people could eat one package and be satisfied. The taste? Not bad. I’ve had way worse (namely, the original Kraft macaroni & cheese in the rectangular box with the orange powder) but really, I’ve also had way better. As a matter of fact, I’d rather eat straight up Velveeta shells & cheese instead of this; at least that way I know what I’m getting and don’t expect anything crazy. They went with a cream sauce plus powder seasoning mixture for this new “homestyle” venture, I guess that’s better than all powdered, although I must say Target has an Archer Farms macaroni & cheese that’s really way more delicious than this, and its made with just a powder. It’s a five-cheese kind and it too has a breadcrumb topping, only it’s seasoned. I’d much rather make that. I didn’t get a “four-cheese” taste from the Kraft, whereas with the Archer Farms one you could really taste all the different cheeses (I used to mix a pound of cavatappi with the pasta that comes with it to make more, and add some white cheddar to the sauce mix, way before I started to make homemade). They do have it in a lunch-bowl size as well.
My suggestion? Make homemade. It’s always better for you, even just based on the lack of preservatives, etc. Plus, you can personalize it from start to finish and make the right amount that you need. The Kraft wasn’t terrible, but I probably wouldn’t buy it again- I much prefer homemade. But if you’re really short on time, it’s okay in a pinch, or good to have in the house as a “just in case” option for dinner. Just buy two if you’ve got a family bigger than 2 (or teenagers in the house) and make sure you doctor it up by adding your own cheese. And if you really want a tasty powdered-in-a-box macaroni & cheese dinner, buy this one. Add a lb. of cavatappi to the pasta they give you, add a little white cheddar to the sauce mix, and you’ll make plenty, plus leftovers. But I really think homemade is the best way to go.
And on that note… here’s some really delicious macaroni & cheese for you… homemade, no powder.
THE LADY’S MAC-N-CHEESE (modified slightly by yours truly)
- 1 lb cooked pasta, cooked al dente and drained (I used pipette, but elbows are okay, so is pretty much any kind you like)
- 3 cups grated Cheddar, plus 1 cup for topping
- 3 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup sour cream
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture. Mix thoroughly until all pasta is covered. Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish, top with 1 cup cheddar and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
I prefer to use sharp cheddar, but a mix of mild and sharp would work too. So this version was a bit unorthodox (for me); I’ve never made a macaroni & cheese with eggs before, but it really just melted in your mouth. It reminded me of the homemade macaroni & cheese my mom used to make when I was a kid, with the cheese bubbly & browned on top. A lot of people have had problems with the egg, they say it scrambles and that the mixture isn’t creamy. I had no problems, and I added the egg mixture directly to hot pasta right out of the pot, but I also added heavy cream to mine, so maybe that made it a bit creamier? I didn’t find it to be overly “eggy” but again, I tweaked the recipe. The recipe isn’t the creamiest, really, but it’s different. I like different. Although, even though it’s different… it is just straight up mac-n-cheese. There aren’t any other flavors going on, nothing fancy. But god, is it good.
What I did was I mixed the beaten eggs with the sour cream, milk and heavy cream. I cut the butter into very small pieces, then mixed that in as well. I let it sit while the pasta cooked (8 minutes according to my pasta box/brand), and then as soon as I drained the pasta I mixed it together with the cheese. Then I mixed in the egg mixture and made sure it was thoroughly combined, so all the pasta was covered. I don’t know if how I did it made a difference, or if it was just my tweaking, but I found it to be delicious, and so did anyone else who ate it.
And the best thing about it is not only is it amazing the first time around.. but even better fried. Mainly because it’s a great idea for using up the leftover macaroni & cheese, but also because fried mac-n-cheese is one of the best things on earth. In September I went to Chip Shop in Brooklyn with Jay & some friends of ours. You may know them from the Food Network & Travel Channel specials they’ve been featured on. Anyway we went there and we indulged in some lovely fish & chips, but more importantly some fried Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, fried Twix bars, fried pizza and fried cheesecake. We didn’t get to try the fried macaroni & cheese (or fried Twinkies) but really, it was an amazing experience. Believe it or not, we didn’t even feel gross after eating that much fried food… the batter isn’t disgustingly heavy or greasy. So if anyone out there is near Brooklyn, I highly suggest Chip Shop. They’re gods. But if you can’t get there… try some of this…
THE LADY’S FRIED MAC-N-CHEESE
- 1 recipe “The Lady’s Mac-n-Cheese” prepared, chilled in the refrigerator overnight, and cut into 15 squares, recipe follows
- 1 pound bacon (optional)
- All-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Plain bread crumbs
- Peanut oil, for frying
- Heat peanut oil to 350 degrees F.
- Wrap each square of cheesy mac with 1 strip of bacon, and fasten with toothpick. Dredge each square in flour then egg and then bread crumbs to coat. Fry for about 3 minutes until golden brown.
Yeah. Holy shit. That’s all I can say.
There are TONS of macaroni & cheese recipes out there. So don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last one you see here. I want to try them all! This is an excellent Thanksgiving mac-n-cheese recipe- I’m definitely making it again on Thursday myself. It comes together easy, no roux, no flour, and yet it’s so delicious. Real stick-to-your-ribs food.
And if you’ve got a problem with the calorie count of this… I’ll quote my girl Paula: “I’m your cook, not your doctor.”
All gone *sad face*