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Old 12-11-2013, 08:18 AM   #11
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I'm not sure I would choose Paula Deen as a good source of southern foods. She really does add unnecessary ingredients and calories to her recipes. You can make perfectly delicious macaroni and cheese without eggs, sour cream and a can of cheese soup. And I don't get the purpose of cooking it in the slow cooker.
I am with you on that. One of the things she always did was when she took a bite, she didn't take just a little one like other chefs do, she always took two or more BIG ones. It used to turn my stomach sometimes to watch her. I could just see all that butter and fat flowing through her veins. A southern cook? Hardly. She gave Southern food a bad name. Unfortunately for her, fame went to her head and she ran in the wrong direction with it.
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Old 12-11-2013, 08:33 AM   #12
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I agree with using sharp cheese. I do it to keep the cost down, to heck with the calories. I also use a little spicy mustard and a big pinch of cayenne. If the cheese is a little wimpy I mince an onion and saute it when I make the roux for the cream sauce, it gives the flavor a little boost.

A good way to reduce the calories and boost the nutritional value is to toss in some chopped broccoli or stewed tomatoes. If that is too radical serve the vegetables as a side dish.

The best macaroni and cheese, at my house, comes about a week into the new year. I stick my head in the refrigerator and pull out all of the odds and ends of cheese, sour cream and cream cheese based dips, cheese balls, gift packs with little wedges of processed cheese etc... and put it all into the basic cream sauce. While I'm at it I crumble up the leftover, chex mix, crackers and chips for a crunchy topping.

These tactics have caused more than one young skeptic to ask "what's in it" as they cautiously consider eating at my house!
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:18 AM   #13
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I'm not a huge fan of the sharp cheese dips, cheese logs, and stuff like that. I'm also not big on processed cheese foods, such as the Hillshire Farm Cheddar Cheese in a tub. When I want cheese, I want real cheese.

But cheese macaroni isn't supposed to taste like cheese. And those cheese tubs, and processed cheese foods are great to use for a good mac & cheese. Of course, you can go gourmet and put some really great cheeses in your mac and cheese. But that's very expensive. Going that route, a casserole of mac & cheese could cost you $30-plus. I may like gourmet, but I also have to live within my means. That means I'm going to use very sharp cheese in small amounts for flavor, and those little cheese in a tub products. Throw in some Velveeta, onion, mustard, salt, and milk, and you have a good tasting casserole.

Of course, you can always doctor up some of the Kraft Mac & cheese and get a pretty good stove top dish too.

My Stepfather used to love the mac & cheese made with U.S. Commodities cheese that was given out in the Great Depression years, and had cheap during the WW II years. Me, I found it a bit bland. But a whole generation grew up on it, and loved it. Who am I to argue. It's all good.

Seems to me we had a thread devoted to mac & cheese a while back. If you really want some ideas, do a quick search in DC for the thread.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:58 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I'm not sure I would choose Paula Deen as a good source of southern foods. She really does add unnecessary ingredients and calories to her recipes. You can make perfectly delicious macaroni and cheese without eggs, sour cream and a can of cheese soup. And I don't get the purpose of cooking it in the slow cooker.
I agree entirely.

There is no reason whatsoever to use a can of soup in mac and cheese.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:03 AM   #15
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...But cheese macaroni isn't supposed to taste like cheese.
Sorry, I agreed with you up until this point, Chief, but I have to say "baloney" to that.

Maybe it's just part of my Wisconsin upbringing, but when I have mac & cheese, it had darned well better taste like cheese. No Velveeta. No Kraft Singles. No canned cheese soup. No artificial "stuff".

Only real cheese.

I don't always exclusively use Cheddar, although that's usually at least the bulk of the blend. I also like to mix in a little bit of stronger cheeses like Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, or whatever happens to be on hand.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:08 AM   #16
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Mac and cheese is a calorie loaded treat at our house so when it's on the dinner menu, no one is counting those calories since we relish every single one of them.

I agree about not needing eggs, sour cream and a can of cheese soup, but to each their own. I also agree that the best batches of mac and cheese come from those combinations of cheeses and other tidbits in the fridge.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:21 PM   #17
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Sorry, I agreed with you up until this point, Chief, but I have to say "baloney" to that.

Maybe it's just part of my Wisconsin upbringing, but when I have mac & cheese, it had darned well better taste like cheese. No Velveeta. No Kraft Singles. No canned cheese soup. No artificial "stuff".

Only real cheese.

I don't always exclusively use Cheddar, although that's usually at least the bulk of the blend. I also like to mix in a little bit of stronger cheeses like Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, or whatever happens to be on hand.

I guess I've just never had a superior mac & cheese made from real cheese. Of course I know how to add the cheddar without it becoming clumpy, and as I said, I love a good, 5-year or more aged cheddar in my version. It's just that at $15 a lb., I'd rather just treat myself to a really great slice of cheese that dilute that flavor with pasta.

I too like the strong Italian cheeses mixed in with the cheddar.

Another reason that I make my home-made mac & cheese with the things that I do is that really good cheeses just aren't available where I live. I have to go into Canada to find good cheese, or travel a couple hundred miles either south, or west. I live in a cheese challenged area.

I always get great cheese for Christmas, as a gift from my kids, or DW. They know I am a lover of great cheese. It's a rare thing around here. Costco even has a better selection of cheese than I can get.

It's the price I pay for living in the most water-rich area on the planet.

I can also get good cheese from a few, select sites online. I don't do that often enough. I have to change my ways. I do get great peppers though. I can grow them, and have friends that grow them. I guess you could say that you're a cheesehead. Me, I have to be a chilihead where I live. I am both, in heart.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:30 PM   #18
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I like to add crushed (by hand) a large can of Italian tomatoes to my mac and cheese. I also use dry mustard instead of the jar. It really gives it a nice bite. For the topping I will grate a small amount of cheese and mix it in with the fresh buttered bread crumbs. Spread liberally over the top. The bread crumbs will brown as the mac and cheese cooks. I cook a whole pound of the casserole size macaroni and bake it in my large roasting pan. With the tomatoes added, it is filled right to the top. All I have to do is let the word get out that I made it and it will disappear in less than 24 hours. I use the juice from the tomatoes as part of the liquid for the cream sauce. I am lucky if I get one helping.

I usually like to make sure I have some Swiss cheese in it. I often will pick through the cold cut ends and pick up a couple of packages of cheese ends. You never know what is in it. A thick end of Swiss, American, Provolone, etc. So it is a surprise when you open it. But the cost per pound for the ends is half what you would pay at the deli counter.
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Old 12-11-2013, 12:56 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Chief Longwind Of The North View Post
I guess I've just never had a superior mac & cheese made from real cheese. Of course I know how to add the cheddar without it becoming clumpy, and as I said, I love a good, 5-year or more aged cheddar in my version. It's just that at $15 a lb., I'd rather just treat myself to a really great slice of cheese that dilute that flavor with pasta.
I agree with you. I wouldn't use a $15/lb cheddar for M&C. That's better as a standalone treat.

My favorite for cooking is a 2-year Wisconsin cheddar they sell by the block in our local store. It isn't what I would call great cheese, but it's pretty good and has plenty of flavor. It sells for around $5/lb and is much tastier than anything with k-r-a-f-t on the label.

We usually make mac and cheese when there are a lot of odds and ends to use up - for instance after a dinner party. I'm not even opposed to using something like cream cheese. We once had M&C that included jalapeno cream cheese that someone had left at the house, and it really worked well.
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Old 12-11-2013, 02:20 PM   #20
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There's a Mexican-inspired restaurant near us that makes jalapeno mac 'n cheese Great stuff.

I like to use a mixture of cheeses, too. Chief, everything is available online, you know:

https://www.wisconsincheesemart.com/cheese/

Buy Cheese Online Gourmet Artisan Cheese French Italian Cheddar Cheeses
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