Sunday, March 2, 2014

Easy and fast mac & cheese from scratch!

Just the mention of a roux can send some amateur cooks into a fit, and I have to admit that mine often aren't perfect, so I tend to shy away from them. But a roux is at the heart of mac & cheese. For those who aren't aware, a roux is a blend of fat and starch that forms a pasty or saucy mixture that doesn't separate. This can be very useful for making gravies and sauces. Mac & cheese is just pasta in a cheese sauce, so it's usually a roux of butter or other oil, cheese and either corn starch or flour.

Below, I'll go into the recipe for a basic mac & cheese using this technique and then a few ways you can "dress it up" with other ingredients. But I have to stress that mac & cheese is a basic canvas. Get creative and try whatever you want! If you're trying to keep carbs in line, don't have this more than once a week, and consider one of the high-fiber, high-protein pastas that have a lower glycemic index.

Basic version:

  • 2 tbsp canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups pasta (more if it's a large shell or the like)
  • 1 cup cheddar or other flavorful cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese cut into small cubes
  • salt & pepper to taste