Mac n cheese


Last night we had dinner at Sarma, which is our “local.” It is also an extraordinary restaurant that has garnered national attention. The two of us only ordered 4 dishes. Our waitress, new to us, thought that this wasn’t enough and left the menus on the table. When we came home, we had a dessert of fresh raspberries from our garden and local cream.

Tonight, I had visitors at 6 where I served Persian tea and cakes. Then we enjoyed a frozen baked pasta dish and a large salad. No pictures. I don’t photograph at restaurants, and well, a baked pasta. Who photographs that?

(Doo B. Wah) #22

I made stuffed pasta shells with Italian Sausage, Spinach, Homemade Tomato Sauce and Three Cheeses.

Does that count?


I was in Key West and had a Mac’n cheese at a restaurant famous for their lobster version - it was very memorable - we wish we had simply backed up and orders it again it was so good.

Any suggestions for how to recreate and add lobster - this Saveur recipe looks like a good base. Do I pre-cook the lobster and add it at the end or do I mix in raw lobster and cook in the dish. If so when is best to mix in and how long to cook.


With sodium citrate you don’t need a bechamel. That why it’s so much better. You’re eliminating the flour. The cheese flavor stands out much better. There are no competing flavors.


@zackly do you have a trusted Mac and cheese recipe that uses sodium citrate? I’ve been wanting to try this method out.


Just follow the link from Modernist Cuisine that I posted for “Melty Queso Dip”.


So just use that and add the pasta? I found a recipe on serious eats too.


I’ve only done it twice and my experience has been - add cooked lobster at the end. Lobster is very hard to get out of the shell raw, so it needs to be blanched for a few minutes anyway to get the “raw” meat out. Then the lobster never seemed right after baking in the mac and cheese.

But the best results came when I used lobster stock in the bechamel sauce. That to me imparted the best flavor.


Thanks - makes sense. [quote=“Thimes, post:28, topic:8807”]
I used lobster stock in the bechamel sauce

Excellent suggestion.

(Retired !) #30

I made linguini in a baked in a cheese and crab sauce topped with old Bay and bread crumbs tonight:

It was delishus. I will have to do this again.

(Dan) #31

Your photos are really inspiring.


I like a really rich, deep mac n cheese with cheddar and gruyere and parm and mustard and all kind of stuff. I’ve found that elbows just don’t hold up to the thick sauce I make no matter how much I undercook them. I’ve been having much better results with cavatappi.


Thanks, zackly. My son uses the Modernist recipe with a variety of cheeses, depending on his mood and what we have around. It’s always wonderful, but sometimes I feel like having an old-fashioned bechamel sauce. My sauce tends to be grainy, though, so I thought I’d try and add some sodium citrate to make it silkier. So far, I haven’t had any luck. First time I added 1/2 teas. to 5 cups of milk and 24 oz. extra sharp cheddar, with no difference. Next time I added 1 teaspoon without much effect. For my third try, I’ll try 2 teas. My son tends to measure in grams but I’m not that precise!


Are you using a cheddar that is aged enough to have noticeable tyrosine crystals? If so, you may have to do a little more work to get it smooth, even with sodium citrate. I have noticed that those crystals remain even with a pretty substantial amount of sodium citrate. Kenji Lopez-Alt addresses them with a thorough beating (immersion blender or whatever) in his method for creating meltable cheese slices - not exactly the same thing, but it might help your sauce if tyrosine crystals are the problem.


Thanks, biondanonima. I think the immersion blender is the way to go. I use Cabot Seriously Sharp, which isn’t particularly crystally, so I guess that I’m not whisking hard enough. I’ll report back after my next attempt, which will probably be when the Hatch chiles are out. They make a great addition, along with a bit of onion, garlic and cayenne.


Can you get the cheese to melt in the milk/cream, if you don’t make a bechamel first? I’ve been making mac&cheese forever from a recipe that says to make a bechamel, then add the cheese, but otherwise has similar cooking instructions. The taste has been fine, but it is never never gooey or stretchy, and I wonder if that has to do with the addition of a roux…

(Retired !) #37

I always make a roux first, one tablespoon of butter to one tablespoon of flour, otherwise the cheese separates. Once you’ve made the roux and can just smell the flour toasting, add the milk, hafnhaf or cream until it thickens slightly. Then the grated cheeses, including grated harder aged cheeses like parmigiano, old gouda, gruyere rinds, etc. I usually use a blend of at least 4, including sharp cheddar, Jarlsberg, and whatever else is leftover in the cheese box. Sometimes I add a dash of Tabasco, white wine, or a little fresh grated nutmeg.

It’s a Mornay sauce, which is basically a bechamel with cheese added:

The only other thing that works is Velveeta/American process cheese, which has a different melting profile because it’s not really cheese.

(Retired !) #38

You can also use a roux to get a cheese fondue to melt evenly instead of cornstarch. In that case I use white wine and lemon juice instead of the hafnhaf.


Sasha - there are so many variables as explained in this link. Type of cheese probably is the most influential to get gooey and stretchy but also cooking temperature, age, presence of starch and acid etc etc.

(erica) #40

Velveeta isn’t the only alternative. Melting your shredded cheese in evaporated milk works, without the need for flour.