Faster Prep Idea for Mac and Cheese

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qlopp

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Hi,

I make a fairly detailed mac and cheese for parties, either 1/2 or full pan at once. It is a lot of work and clean up to do at once but I like the results much better when I make and bake it right before serving rather than cooling in the pan overnight and then heating to serve. It has to do with taste which I can't describe, but also appearance and consistency; mostly that at refrigerator temp the noodles "freeze" in place in the cheese and get sort of gummy compared to freshly made/baked.

Anyway, the backstory is there if you need it but doesn't matter to my question: If I were to prep the cheese sauce the night before, pour it (hot) into the foil steam table pan, then cover and refrigerate, on the day of serving I could warm it up in the oven while cooking the pasta. Both would be warm/hot so they should hopefully mix without cutting/mashing up the pasta. The final step would be a crumb topping and a quick browning at higher temp.

I *think* this would result in as "good as fresh" taste but I've never tried to reheat this sauce. Based on the condensed recipe below, what do you think?

CHEESE SAUCE:
Saute finely diced red onion and garlic in butter in a large pan on medium heat. Add more butter and make a roux by slowly adding flour until thick. Slowly add the following, stirring until smooth: milk, heavy cream, shredded Velveeta and white cheddar, grated Reggiano, and crumbled blue cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Thank you.
 

taxlady

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Welcome to Discuss Cooking qlopp.

I would try with a small amount of the sauce and see how it works. Maybe someone knows if the sauce would heat well in the microwave.
 

qlopp

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Welcome to Discuss Cooking qlopp.

I would try with a small amount of the sauce and see how it works. Maybe someone knows if the sauce would heat well in the microwave.

Thanks. No microwave would be involved. It would be in a large aluminum pan, reheating low and slow in the oven. When it becomes fluid I'd start the pasta.
 

taxlady

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Thanks. No microwave would be involved. It would be in a large aluminum pan, reheating low and slow in the oven. When it becomes fluid I'd start the pasta.

I realized that you were thinking about reheating it in the oven. I was suggesting the use of the MW, if someone knows if that would work. It sounds easier to me.
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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With the Velveeta in it, it should reheat into a creamy sauce, as Velveeta has emulsifiers in it. If it breaks (oil separates from cheese, and cheese becomes lumpy), it can easily be made smooth again with an immersion blender. Just make sure that the pasta is Al Dente at most, as it will absorb a little of the sauce moisture, and may become too soft when baked. Also Al Dente pasta will stand up to being folded into the sauce watthour turning to mush.

Al Dente, if you are unfamiliar with the term, means to the tooth. It is the stage where pasta still has a little toughness, but no more crunch. In other words, it is a little chewy, which is considered by most as a good thing.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the Notch
 

dragnlaw

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taxy, I think OP was saying that there is no MV available.

qlopp, I think your idea would work. Warming in the oven should be fine, especially if covered so as not to create a skin/crust.

Testing ahead of time is recommended. If you're worried about a skin/crust maybe a quick spritz with water would help alleviate that.

Let us know what happens!

edit...
and qlopp, Welcome to DC!
 

qlopp

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Location
Mid America
With the Velveeta in it, it should reheat into a creamy sauce, as Velveeta has emulsifiers in it. If it breaks (oil separates from cheese, and cheese becomes lumpy), it can easily be made smooth again with an immersion blender. Just make sure that the pasta is Al Dente at most, as it will absorb a little of the sauce moisture, and may become too soft when baked. Also Al Dente pasta will stand up to being folded into the sauce watthour turning to mush.

Al Dente, if you are unfamiliar with the term, means to the tooth. It is the stage where pasta still has a little toughness, but no more crunch. In other words, it is a little chewy, which is considered by most as a good thing.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the Notch

I apologize for the late response, and thank you for the detailed explanation. Probably less than 1/3 is Velveeta "cheddar" shreds but the idea is to make it creamier than cheese alone, which can be glopy even if served immediately.

I do the pasta al dente for the reasons you mentioned.
 

qlopp

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taxy, I think OP was saying that there is no MV available.

qlopp, I think your idea would work. Warming in the oven should be fine, especially if covered so as not to create a skin/crust.

Testing ahead of time is recommended. If you're worried about a skin/crust maybe a quick spritz with water would help alleviate that.

Let us know what happens!

edit...
and qlopp, Welcome to DC!

Thank you. The water idea is good but I hope not to need it :LOL: Yes on covering it initially, however when everything goes in at near boiling temp the only need for additional heat is to brown the top. I foil it initially when starting with a preassembled cold batch but I'm not sure it will be required in this context.
 

dragnlaw

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Another idea?

Perhaps, instead of pouring your sauce into the final pan and warming in the oven,
pour it into another pan/bowl that you could use as a double boiler/bain marie to warm up. When you put the water on to boil for the pasta, start heating your sauce about the same time.

You would have to stir, about the same as you probably stir your pasta while it's cooking, but you're right there anyhow.

Drain your pasta, add warmed sauce, mix, pour into baking dish, top with crumbs and into oven to brown.
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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For a richer mac & cheese, that is creamy, without the Velveeta, I give you this recipe. It has two kinds of cheese, colby. and extra sharp cheddar. It is yummy.

Creamy cheese sauce is easy to make, when you understand the process. Cheese is a combination of proteins and fat. As proteins are heated above 160 ' F', they begin to coil up and condense, separating from the fat. They clump together. This property is eliminated by making the sauce at the right temperature, and using an emulsifier. Fortunately ordinary yellow mustard is an emulsifier, and compliments cheese flavor.
In this recipe, we are going to melt the cheese into a flavorful Bechemel sauce, with added mustard to create a creamy, and delicious cheese sauce. The extra sharp cheddar, white, or yellow as you prefer, gives that cheese flavor that we crave, while the Colby adds milk notes, and a creamy texture.
Here's how to make it.

Ingredients
1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni, Cavatapi, or shells
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 t cayenne pepper (optional)
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
2/ 1/4 cups chicken, or vegetable broth
1 lb. Colby cheese shredded
1 lb extra-sharp cheddar cheese shredded divided into 2 cu portions
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add salt.
place the pasta into the water and cook foe 8 minutes. rain and set aside.

Place the butter, mustard, garlic, and cayenne pepper into a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, stir for 1 minute. Add the flour, stirring until a thin paste is formed. Continue cooking until the roux just starts to color (blonde roux). Slowly stir in the broth. It will get very thick at first. As you continue stirring in the broth, it will thin. Slowly stir in the milk. The Bechemel will be very smooth, and creamy. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for five minutes.

Preheat oven to 350' F.
Now, add the grated Coly cheese, a little at a time, stirring until smooth, until all of it is incorporated into the sauce, Turn off the heat. Slowly stir in 2 cups of the Cheddar, again stirring until smooth. Pour into a 9 by 11 casserole dish. Fold the pasta into the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar evenly over the top. Spread bread crumbs evenly on top. Place the casserole into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bead crumbs are toasted lightly brown. Remove from the oven and enjoy.

Tip: Double the sauce recipe and use half for the mac & cheese. Refrigerate the rest for other meals, as this sauce is also great for Philly-steak sandwiches, or over steamed asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, baked potato, poached eggs, or as nachos. Modify it with hot sauce if needed for the use. Add to scalloped potatoes, or pour over enchiladas, or wet burritos, with salsa. Add to a pot of rice, vermicelli, ground beef, and celery for a one pot meal.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 

qlopp

Assistant Cook
Joined
Jul 28, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Mid America
For a richer mac & cheese, that is creamy, without the Velveeta, I give you this recipe. It has two kinds of cheese, colby. and extra sharp cheddar. It is yummy.

Creamy cheese sauce is easy to make, when you understand the process. Cheese is a combination of proteins and fat. As proteins are heated above 160 ' F', they begin to coil up and condense, separating from the fat. They clump together. This property is eliminated by making the sauce at the right temperature, and using an emulsifier. Fortunately ordinary yellow mustard is an emulsifier, and compliments cheese flavor.
In this recipe, we are going to melt the cheese into a flavorful Bechemel sauce, with added mustard to create a creamy, and delicious cheese sauce. The extra sharp cheddar, white, or yellow as you prefer, gives that cheese flavor that we crave, while the Colby adds milk notes, and a creamy texture.
Here's how to make it.

Ingredients
1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni, Cavatapi, or shells
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 t cayenne pepper (optional)
6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
2/ 1/4 cups chicken, or vegetable broth
1 lb. Colby cheese shredded
1 lb extra-sharp cheddar cheese shredded divided into 2 cu portions
1 cup Panko bread crumbs

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add salt.
place the pasta into the water and cook foe 8 minutes. rain and set aside.

Place the butter, mustard, garlic, and cayenne pepper into a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, stir for 1 minute. Add the flour, stirring until a thin paste is formed. Continue cooking until the roux just starts to color (blonde roux). Slowly stir in the broth. It will get very thick at first. As you continue stirring in the broth, it will thin. Slowly stir in the milk. The Bechemel will be very smooth, and creamy. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for five minutes.

Preheat oven to 350' F.
Now, add the grated Coly cheese, a little at a time, stirring until smooth, until all of it is incorporated into the sauce, Turn off the heat. Slowly stir in 2 cups of the Cheddar, again stirring until smooth. Pour into a 9 by 11 casserole dish. Fold the pasta into the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar evenly over the top. Spread bread crumbs evenly on top. Place the casserole into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bead crumbs are toasted lightly brown. Remove from the oven and enjoy.

Tip: Double the sauce recipe and use half for the mac & cheese. Refrigerate the rest for other meals, as this sauce is also great for Philly-steak sandwiches, or over steamed asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, baked potato, poached eggs, or as nachos. Modify it with hot sauce if needed for the use. Add to scalloped potatoes, or pour over enchiladas, or wet burritos, with salsa. Add to a pot of rice, vermicelli, ground beef, and celery for a one pot meal.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
Always late to reply, but I appreciate your educational replies on mustard as an emulsifier and the detailed all cheese recipe. This has been educational and inspirational!
 

Just Cooking

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I've made this a few times; it's very good and it's as easy as it seems.

In reading the comments of this video, I see that many people have added things to enhance the flavor. Some think it a bit bland.

Do you make it as Kenji does or add something?

Jeannie will try making this tonight as its a simple recipe. She is trying to take on more cooking as my health is not the best, at this time.

Ross
 

GotGarlic

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In reading the comments of this video, I see that many people have added things to enhance the flavor. Some think it a bit bland.



Do you make it as Kenji does or add something?



Jeannie will try making this tonight as its a simple recipe. She is trying to take on more cooking as my health is not the best, at this time.



Ross
I added dry mustard and hot sauce. The first time I made it, I used all extra-sharp cheddar. I thought it was a little one-note, so next time I used about 3/4 cheddar and 1/4 mozzarella.

Sorry to hear about your health problems. I hope you're feeling better soon. Sheet pan meals are a great way to make an easy dinner.

Photo for inspiration ;)
FB_IMG_1640871257832.jpg
 
Last edited:

Just Cooking

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Messages
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Location
Springfield, MO
I added dry mustard and hot sauce. The first time I made it, I used all extra-sharp cheddar. I thought it was a little one-note, so next time I used about 3/4 cheddar and 1/4 mozzarella.

Sorry to hear about your health problems. I hope you're feeling better soon. Sheet pan meals are a great way to make an easy dinner.

Thank you. :)

Will use mozzarella, dry mustard and hot sauce also. :yum:

Yes@ sheet pan meals too. I used to make them often and just got away from them, for some reason.

Ross
 

GinnyPNW

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Sorry to hear you are ailing, Ross. Hope you are feeling better soon!

A few years back, I found https://www.myfoodandfamily.com/recipe/062578/marys-macaroni-cheese-recipe - and I've been making it ever since. I even make it at campouts and it is always a hit. I like that there's no roux to make, and I think it comes out a tad lighter...and very tasty.

Another favorite, not exactly Mac & Cheese is: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/rigatoni-with-cabbage-and-fontina-5531795
 

Chief Longwind Of The North

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Though I like the emulsifying power of Velveeta, the cheese product isn't the same as It was when I was a child. It was originally created to use upu bits and ieces left over from cheese wheels. The creator of Velveeta came up with a recipe involving Swiss Cheese, Sharp Cheddar, and Colby Cheese, heated, and blended with whey. The result was velvety smooth, and melted easily, without breaking. So he called it Velveeta. He sold the recipe to Kraft foods. Now, Velveeta is made from whey, without the real cheeses, and just isn't, in my opinion, quite as good.

To make a cheese loaf rich in flavor, with that wonderful, original Velveeta texture, heat one cup full fat milk until it just begins to simmer; remove from the heat; and add 1/2 cup each, freshly shredded swiss, extra sharp, cheddar, and Colby cheese. Stir until all is smoothly combined. Pour into a cling-wrap lined loaf pan, and refrigerate. Use with added cheeses of choice for mac, and cneese, or slice for grilled cheese, or wherever yu want a creamy slice of easy meting cheese.

Make sure to grate your own cheese, as pre-grated from the stor has corn starch added to prevent the shreds from sticking together.

You can play with the ratio of milk to cheese to make the loaf softer, or firmer as desired. And add a little salt to enhance the flavor.

Seeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 
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