I’m not an alarmist, but this New York Times article about how chemicals are in boxed macaroni and cheese freaked me the eff out. It doesn’t have anything to do with the product itself, it’s the way the food is packaged, and that process causes harmful (hormone disrupting) chemicals to seep into the food. And because of all of that, buying organic or all-natural or the Cristal of mac and cheese won’t matter — the chemicals were found in all of it.
This was a huge blow, as boxed mac is a weeknight staple in our house. Or, shall I say, was a staple. So, I rushed to find a recipe that was as instant as it could be. I wound up tweaking and combining a few, and think the final result is pretty good. It only takes about 15 minutes, doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, measuring or hard prep, and the kids liked it. My only criticism is that it loses creaminess when it’s reheated, so I usually just toss in a splash of milk and a little more cheese before I nuke it. And to jazz it up a bit, I crush potato chips on top, an idea I snagged from Mac Mart on 18th Street. Note: This makes a pretty big batch, enough for family dinner or plenty to reheat throughout the week. Feel free to half it.
Quicky Stove-Top Mac and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
2 cups milk (the higher the fat content, the creamier it will be)
8 ounces cheddar cheese
1/2 tablespoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions: Cook pasta according to instructions. Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir in flour and whisk for 2 minutes until nutty/light brown. Whisk in the milk, a little bit at a time, so lumps don’t form. Continue until all the milk is combined. Then melt in the cheese (you can cube up a brick or use shredded). Add mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside until pasta is done, toss pasta in the cheese sauce, top with some crushed up potato chips and have at it.
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