Stovetop Mac and Cheese

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The Pasta Man is a young lawyer from Washington, DC. He cooks a lot of pasta and other things, too. He blogs at www.thepastamanblog.com.

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This much is clear: if you can make stovetop macaroni and cheese that is much more delicious than what comes from the box in less than half an hour with minimal ingredients, you must do it.

This recipe is from The Food Lab, Kenji Lopez-Alt’s newish tome of a book about all things food science, or rather recipes involving food science. The real, secret strength of this recipe is the way that it gets gooey and delicious, while maintaining that great cheese flavor that mac and cheese is all about. This miracle is accomplished with a few special ingredients: cornstarch and evaporated milk, rather than a béchamel, provide creaminess without any off-tasting or gritty flour, and just a touch of American cheese allows for the cheese to melt through and through. An egg also adds amazing pasta-grabbing ability.

The best part? Virtually no technique is required. Just boil up some pasta and throw all the ingredients together. Grate your cheese in the Magic Bullet and mix – and that’s it!

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Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Adapted from The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 pound extra-sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 pound American cheese
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into hunks
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce, or to taste
  • frozen peas, optional, to taste
Directions
  1. Cook pasta in heavily salted water until barely al dente. Optional: add frozen peas about a minute before the pasta is done.
  2. Blend the cheeses in the Magic Bullet, then move them to a bowl with the cornstarch and stir. Add the other ingredients (except the pasta!) to the Magic Bullet and blend or shake until well-mixed.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the saucepan. Over low heat, add the butter and then everything else. Season to taste with salt and serve while hot.
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