If you read that blog title and thought you were going to find the perfect recipe for macaroni and cheese on this blog entry, alas, you are not. Here’s why: In all my life, despite the fact that macaroni and cheese is my No. 1 favorite food on Earth and I’ve tried many recipes, I have yet to find what I think is the perfect one.
Maybe it’s been so hard because I have such high standards. I think it’s also challenging because there are several different styles of macaroni and cheese and everybody has a favorite.
My grandmother’s mac ‘n’ cheese was of the baked variety, and if memory serves me correctly, she used a cracker-crumb topping. My mom, on the other hand, usually made creamy macaroni and cheese in a pot on the stove top, starting with a basic white sauce and loading it with lots of sharp cheddar for a punch of cheesy flavor.
Both were very yummy, but what I’ve been aiming for all my life, I think, is some hybrid of the two. I don’t like baked macaroni and cheese when the noodles seem separate from the cheese, resulting in bare noodles, clumps of cheese and grease. There has to be some binding agent involved. I don’t like creamy macaroni and cheese when the cheese flavor isn’t strong enough, because then it’s just bland and not worth the fat and calories.
In short, good macaroni and cheese is very, very good; bad macaroni and cheese is ugly.
I’m sure I’m opening a big can of worms (or box of elbow macaroni) asking this question, but what do YOU guys think of when you imagine the perfect macaroni and cheese? Do you have a recipe for your perfect mac, or a favorite restaurant version?
Then there’s the subject of using a variety of different cheeses or adding other ingredients, such as bacon or hot peppers (as in this Simply Recipes version with green chiles). Is that just gilding the lily?