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Old 01-06-2006, 08:41 PM   #1
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Help Me Perfect My Macaroni Casserole

Hello there. Guys i am trying to make a creamy, delicious macaroni and cheese casserole. Let me explain my situation.

When i cook macaroni and cheese, i use the same method. I use about 12 ounces of pasta, make a roux with flour and butter, 4T of each, get it goin, then add in 3 cups of whole milk. This milk first i get warm, and to this milk i add a few crushed garlic cloves and half of a chopped yellow onion, and put it on burner on MEDLO for awhile to get it warm and infuse the flavors.

Okay so i got the roux going, then added in the milk, and i heat it for awhile on medium low until it gets a little thick. at this point i add in my seasonings, which are irrelevant, as this is not about taste, its about texture.

At this point i add some cheese. Normally about a pound of cheese, stir it around , get it hot and nice and creamy.

Okay - If i stop here, and say serve this with some Al Dente Sea Shells, everything comes out fantastic, with a creamy rich texture.

But the thing is, i want to make it into a casserole dish, so i like to add elbow macaroni instead of shells, (Because they will not fall apart)

And throw it into a casserole dish and bake it at 350 for 40 minutes.

Here is the problem - Anytime i try to bake it, the texture at the end is totally messed up. It is crispy on top, which is what i want, but on the inside it is clumpy and dryish. It is not creamy and delicious.

I know this is a poor food chain and their food is bland - But have you seen the Luby's Restaurant Macaroni and Cheese casserole? It has the crust on top, but maintains a delicious creamyness on the inside. I loved it as a kid.

I cannot make my casseroles come out this way. Always dry and clumpy in middle.

For cheeses, i have used many variations...here are the main ones

1 lb Velveete 8 oz sharp cheddar
1 lb Sharp Cheddar 8 oz Fontina

When i bake it, i always throw on a Cup of shredded cheddar on top, along with some romano and parmagiono reggiano.

How can i get a delicious creamy interior on my mac and cheese casseroles? What am i doing wrong?

Perhaps i should cook it, not bake it for 40 minutes, instead just put a layer of cheese on top and put it under the broiler?

Please give me some tips

PS - If i want to incorporate buttermilk into this recipe, at what point should i add it? Should i add it when i throw in the 3 cups of warm milk into the roux?


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Old 01-06-2006, 08:51 PM   #2
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It might be as simple as not having enough liquid for the amount of macaroni. If it's dryish, try making a little more cheese sauce or using a little less macaroni. The pasta, even though it's already mostly cooked will absorb more moisture during the baking. Some moisture will also evaporate during baking.

Consider upping the milk to 4 cups.

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Old 01-06-2006, 09:38 PM   #3
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I just started usign Paula Deen's recipe. You make a custard with eggs, milk, and sour cream. You put the shredded cheese on the hot macaroni, then por the custard on and mix, then bake. I use less cheese then she calls for because DH likes cheese but nottons of it. He says this is the best mac and cheese I ever made. I used to make the roux to make white sauce, stir in the cheese to melt and then bake. For me that method made a drier casserole than the custard method.
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Old 01-07-2006, 09:39 AM   #4
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I agree with not enough bechamel for the amount of macaroni.

Also, per your method of making the roux, when you add the warm milk to the flour/butter, you need to bring that up to a full boil, stirring all the time, to thicken it and get rid of the raw flour taste.

Edited to also say check your oven temp to make sure it really is 350, and not running a little high - 375 for 40 minutes would dry out your casserole.

And, I agree with perfectly devine - PD's mac and cheese is awesome!!!
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Old 01-07-2006, 10:51 AM   #5
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NYTimes this week

had a good article on mac and cheese. Maybe you can get some ideas from it.
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Old 01-07-2006, 10:54 AM   #6
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I just looked at Paula's recipe...had it saved in my recipe files. If you'll note, the liquid is not thickened before being poured over the macaronit. I think that''s the secret. Pasta soaks up a lot of liquid, and if the sauce is thickened first, it's not going to soak in so well.
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Old 01-07-2006, 11:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gretchen
had a good article on mac and cheese. Maybe you can get some ideas from it.
Gretchen, you hit a home run on this link. It mentions and explains all of the problems that plagued the original poster's recipe and methods.

The dryness is no doubt a result of using too little Béchamel sauce (or indeed, using a white sauce at all). The clumpiness would be caused by using a pure "natural" cheese rather than a mixture of natural cheese and a processed cheese like American. (The original poster noted that he has used Velveeta in the past which is beyond processed and more in the nature of cheese food. I cannot imagine what went wrong with that batch.)

The article in the NYT by Julia Moskin is an outstanding study in Macaroni and Cheese and should solve all the problems. I also recommend looking at the related links which are recipes for a creamy and a crusty Macaroni and Cheese:



Note: New York Times is a membership site which required that you login to read their articles. If you need a login name, you can get one without registering by going to the site www.bugmenot.com and entering the site www.newyorktimes.com for a public login name and password.
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Old 01-07-2006, 03:08 PM   #8
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Mine always comes out creamy. I dont go through the process of making a cheese sauce. Instead I just layer my mac and cheese like you would a lasagna. I also add hot salsa and corn for extra flavor and spice. I use american cheese and sharp cheddar.
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Old 01-07-2006, 07:54 PM   #9
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Like Amber, I layer mine--with macaroni and Velveeta. Then I pour milk over it and bake it. Creamy every time.


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