“Macaroni and cheese” a.k.a. “Mac and Cheese” is a quintessential American comfort food. Most people in the U.S., including my wife, have grown up eating. The product is bright yellow and sweet, made of powdered cheddar cheese–kids love it. In recent years, gourmet versions of “Mac and Cheese” started appearing in many good restaurants. We (mostly my wife) tried several and pronounced them “very good”. Besides these restaurants, my wife had “Mac and Cheese” at a semi-gourmet fast food restaurant/cafeteria ” at the the Denver airport. Since airlines no longer serve food, she found the nice, big, still warm, comforting bowl of really good “Mac and Cheese” especially gratifying and reported to me that she liked it. Sometime later, I too, had a chance to try Wolfgang Puck Express “Mac and Cheese” at the Denver airport during a business trip but I found it way too greasy and I did not like it. When I reported this to my wife she replied, “for those who do most of their praying during take-offs and landings even greasy Mac and cheese is ethereal”. Thus, mostly for my wife, I made my version of “Mac and Cheese”.
I think that the quality and types of cheeses are most important. My recipe is nothing unusual. I first make béchamel sauce and add cheeses, combined with cooked elbow macaroni and bake. This recipe is for about 6 oz of macaroni, which makes about 4 small servings. We cooked one box (16 oz) of elbow macaroni and we used about 2/3 forand 1/3 for Mac and cheese.
Cheeses: Use decent quality cheeses. Cheddar cheese is an absolute “must”. Unfortunately when it is cooked for a long time at a high temperature, it becomes grainy, so I mix it into the béchamel just before baking. Besides cheddar, I also use a combination of different cheeses depending on what we have in our refrigerator. This time, I made the mistake of using too much fresh goat cheese in the sauce. It made the sauce a bit grainy. I usually use any combination of Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and Raclette. Tonight, I had Gruyere, Raclette, fresh goat cheese, and Parmigiano reggiano. The amount of the cheese is arbitrary but I used a total of 1 cup of shredded Gruyere and Raclette in addition to fresh goat cheese (1/4 cup). If the sauce becomes too stiff after the cheese is incorporated, you could add more milk. The sauce should be a bit runny because the macaroni absorbs some of the liquid while it bakes and the sauce may end up dry rather than creamy.