Crusted Cracker Mac and Cheese


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Last weekend I made a massive amount of mac and cheese that I’ve been eating all week and not sharing. (I generally don’t share any of the food that I make that I don’t find fantastic, thus, unshareable.) I had high hopes for this recipe because a) it’s mac and cheese (all mac and cheese recipes should be good) and b) it had a crusty topping. Who doesn’t love a crusty topping?

ingredients.

  • kosher salt
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 1 stick butter, plus melted butter for brushing
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. mustard powder
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 8 oz. havarti cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 1 lb. sharp yellow cheddar cheese, grated (about 4 cups)
  • 12 oz. white American cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
  • 1 sleeve butter crackers (such as Ritz), crushed
  • 2 T. grated parmesan cheese

directions.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just slightly softened, about 6 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and rinse under cold water.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, mustard powder, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and cayenne and cook, whisking, until the mixture is smooth and slightly golden, about two minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce begins to boil and thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in the havarti and all but 1 cup each of the cheddar and American cheese; cook, stirring until the cheese just melts, about 1 more minute. Stir in the pasta, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to make a creamy sauce. Season with salt.
  4. Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with melted butter. Spread the pasta mixture in the dish. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a bowl in the microwave; stir in the crushed crackers and parmesan. Sprinkle the reserved cheddar and American cheese evenly over the pasta, then scatter the cracker mixture on top.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil. Continue baking until browned and bubbly, about 20 more minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

There were two downfall to this dish. There was an enormous amount of sauce to noodle ratio, which meant  to me (when I saw how much excess sauce there was) that the end result will yield a soupy or soggy noodle (which is exactly what happened). And, I didn’t even add any pasta water to thin the sauce out. I undercooked the noodles to no avail. Even with undercooking the noodles they still sopped up all that sauce and ended up soggy in the end. I’m wondering if the recipe would work better if you didn’t cook the noodles at all? But still there would be way too much sauce. Proceed with caution when making this recipe.

On a side note if you’re looking for white American cheese, go directly to your supermarket’s deli counter. And be warned: it’s expensive!

Recipe rating: 

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