Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Basic Macaroni & Cheese

Let's talk about my quest for the perfect homemade macaroni and cheese.  I have scoured cookbooks and the internet for years to rival the macaroni cheesy perfection that is Stouffers Macaroni & Cheese.  I love this stuff - but even though I'm resisting clicking on the nutritional information on that link, I know it's not good!  So, I have a special folder in my Allrecipes online recipe file devoted to Mac & Cheese recipes.  I have tried a lot of them, although some have been good - nothing was even coming close to the creamy perfection of the red box.  Here is a sample of some that I've tried and what I've saved over the years:

Down Home Macaroni & Cheese - I rated this Kraft classic 4 1/2 stars.  I said it was good, put not quite what I was looking for.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese - Look at the picture of this one... creamy!  I never did make, but I was put off by the whole 1 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.  (I know I could reduce it - but I never got around to making it! LOL)

Creamy Mushroom Macaroni - I'm a sucker for the word creamy.  I gave it 3 stars noting that even though I like the melting qualities of Velvetta it was waaaaaaaayyyyyy to much in this recipe.

Mouse's Macaroni & Cheese - I gave it a 4-star rating saying it wasn't quite as, it's that word again, creamy as I hoped but if you loved cheesey it could be the recipe for you!

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese - I remember making this, thinking maybe the crockpot is the answer!  Uh- no.  It was dryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Chuck's Mac and Cheese - This has been in my recipe box since 1/27/07.  I never made it, but my Mrs. S. made it recently and said her family loved it.  (Hey, Mrs. S. - I'm call ya out, at least give us a pic of Band Hero or something!  LOL)

Cafeteria Macaroni & Cheese  - I've had this in my recipe box since July of 2005!  I think (I think) I made it and was like, uh.... heavy, not creamy.

So, as I noted I received PW's Cookbook for Christmas and was immediately enamored with the Macaroni and Cheese recipe that included BOTH a roux and an egg.  I'd never tried that - or even seen a recipe with both.  I followed her recipe exactly - except I used the cheeses lurking in my fridge ('cuz it was clean the pantry week) which included medium cheddar, mozzarella, and a hunk of velvetta (don't be hatin' - it does melt divinely!)  Now listen closely - that one egg DOES SOMETHING!  It doesn't make it all dry and custardy - it was smooth and creamy without being all heavy and too cheesy..... it was macaroni and cheese perfection.  I did cook my macaroni al dente and then just spread the layer of cheddar on top and watched closely under my broiler for about 5-7 minutes to get a few golden brown cheese bits on top.  I think baking it might be what ruins most recipes for me - it because well, too dry & heavy!  LOL

So, let me bottom line it for you.  THE BEST MACARONI AND CHEESE EVER!  (Maybe even better than the red box!  GASP!) Please try it - let me know what YOU think

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Heidi said...

I've been eyeballing that recipe in my pw cookbook. It sounds wonderful and I know I'll be making it soon!

Jodi said...

I told you! :) PW's recipe is very much like my family's and it is yummy! Glad you loved it.

Katy ~ said...

Well, now you know I'm going to have to try this at some point.

Cathy said...

I love PW's Crash Hot Potatoes--I really should get that cookbook. As for Mac 'N Cheese, I really like Stouffer's, too, but I usually end up throwing something together off of the top of my head. It didn't work the last time, or the time before. I think it's time to follow a recipe...