macaroni and cheese for a chef

by Michelle

the art of Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

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Any true blooded North American goes a little woozy when those words are mentioned. In these days of low-carb, low-fat, low-food diets, macaroni and cheese is eaten in the secrecy of our closets. Frankly, sitting in the dark, on top of my winter boots, with my closet door closed wouldn’t phase me at all!

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Writing a food blog really pushes me to see how weak I am, when it comes to comfort food. I can’t help it. Maybe I don’t want to help it. I spent all the 1980’s and 90’s working out. Now that I’m fifty-two, really, my body is what it is and denying me a bowl of high-carb, high-fat deliciousness is not going to make me twenty-five again. Having said that, the catholic in me still feels extreme guilt when I indulge. I counter the guilt, by only making it a couple of times a year. There’s always a way around the guilt!

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For my beloved local readers, I won’t be sharing Sister’s Italian Foods Mac and Cheese recipe. Sorry, when I sold the store that was part of the deal. Don’t leave! There’s more than one way to create the magic.

First of all, I don’t use elbows. They’re not big enough to catch the cheese sauce or the globs of cheddar. Secondly, you can’t use milk. OK, you can use milk but your mac and cheese will be insipid. Full-fat, way too many calories whipping cream is my liquid of choice. It gets reduced to the perfect consistency for receiving shredded cheese. If you reduce it too much, the sauce will be glumpy. Third, no flavour embellishers like Worcestershire sauce or mustard. They completely bastardizes the flavour of the cheese. Fourth, classic macaroni and cheese demands cheddar. I’m sure you’ve seen recipes calling for brie, Gorgonzola, taleggio even cheese whiz. Use them, if you like, but you won’t be making mac and cheese. Medium cheddar is the quintessential choice. Old cheddar is too oily and mild cheddar is. well, too mild. Fifth, I like my mac and cheese to keep it’s shape when I plate it so I use provolone between my layers. Finally, the pasta itself has to be al dente – firm to the gum soft to the teeth. If it’s completely cooked after it’s been boiled, it’ll be mush once it’s baked because the pasta continues to soften as it bakes in the oven.

You didn’t think there could be this many rules for such a simple dish. That’s the kicker. Simplicity demands perfection. Without it, you’ll just be making noodles with a cheese sauce.

Today’s post is the third installment for my “recipes for a chef” seriesI promised to do one a month. Gooey, creamy delicious mac and cheese seemed like a perfect choice for November. I hope you enjoy it!

I’m off to Mexico. While I’m away, could I ask a favour of you? If you like my mac and cheese recipe, please share it with your network – THANKS! XO

I’ll see you soon…

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Preheat 400*F
Serves 6-8

1 pound fusilli
6 cups whipping cream
1 clove of garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 lb medium cheddar cheese, grated
¼ lb provolone, grated
½ sleeve of salted saltine crackers
¼ cup butter, melted


  • Boil the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Place the whipping cream in a deep pot over medium high heat.
  • Smash garlic clove with the side of a butcher’s knife and add to the cream.
  • Bring cream to a boil then reduce heat.
  • Boil gently until cream is reduced to half of it’s original volume.
  • While cream is reducing crush the saltine crackers by hand or in your food processor.
  • Mix crushed crackers with melted butter, ¼ cup grated provolone and ½ cup grated cheddar – set aside.
  • When cream is reduced to half remove garlic clove and stir in salt and pepper.
  • Whisk in the grated cheddar and stir until smooth.
  • Add boiled pasta.
  • Pour ½ of the pasta and sauce into a buttered casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining shredded provolone cheese over the pasta.
  • Pour the remaining pasta and sauce into the dish and sprinkle with cracker crumb mixture.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and top is golden.

THE LOVE: Don’t skimp on anything!

printable recipe

the art of Macaroni and Cheese

one year ago: mini whoopie pies with maple cream

two years ago: Jamie Oliver’s Roasted Chicken in Milk

Thanks for reading.

click on my suggestions for creating a dinner menu around today’s post:

apple tart