Thursday, March 30, 2017

Zack's Mac

Tonight Jeffrey and I hosted the Stewarts and Burtenshaws for dinner.We had taco/salad/wrap makings and Mac-n-cheese. Elder Burtenshaw said it was the best Mac-n-cheese he'd ever had. He has previously only associated mac-n-cheese with the boxed kind.

I told him how I came to get this particular recipe. After making dinners for the Durst family for awhile, I started wondering if the meals were good or not. I asked some of the kids what they would like. Zack pipes up from across the room, "You can bring us Mac-n-cheese Sister Adams." After that I was on a quest to make the best mac-n-cheese possible. After trying/combining/testing different recipes I've come up with a keeper. The secret is a rich chicken broth and three kinds of cheese. The basic cheese needs to be sharp.
Sister Stewart said I should call it Zack's Mac.

When our company got up to go, I realized I had three or four times the amount of food we needed. I packed some in containers to go because Jeffrey and I would be eating the same things for more than a week if we didn't share. I'm going to have to scale down in my mind amounts I make.

Luckily taco ingredients can be used to make different things.

We have some more friends coming over next Thursday. What should I try next time?

Update: Just in case I'm looking for this recipe again:

Zack’s Mac

Noodles: curly twists, penne, etc. I like smaller rather than larger
Chicken Broth or Broth Cubes and water
Cheeses: 3 kinds - sharp cheese is most important
Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, garlic salt, dash of chili pwd, or chipotle, or cayenne
Optional ingredients: Onion, Ham, sour cream/plain Greek yogurt

Cook noodles according to package directions.
Melt butter or pour oil in deep skillet. Sometimes I like to sauté diced onions in the butter. Make a soft roux with flour and let bubble for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth/cubes and water then whisk until smooth, simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Add desired spices (I usually add black pepper at the very end).
Gradually add grated cheeses while swirling sauce until all is melted through. Add sour cream or Greek yogurt if desired. Simmer until hot. Do not boil! Taste test; make sure sauce is more like lite pancake batter than pudding consistency. Adjust spices and consistency accordingly. Add black pepper.
Put noodles and diced ham in casserole pan, and then pour over cheese sauce. If noodles soak up too much sauce, make a second batch of cheese sauce and pour it over the top.
Bake in med high oven until cheese bubbles.

I personally like to have twice as much sauce as noodles and throwing extra cheese into the mix is routine.
I have never written down amounts as I go along so I’m hoping you already know how to make a roux and can eyeball the sauce versus the noodles.
Cheeses: Sharp cheese – large amount, Swiss cheese - smaller amount, Smoked Gouda – just enough to flavor. I have used Sharp, Colby, and Parmesan; Sharp, Swiss, Mozzarella; and here in the Philippines I use Strong and Bitey with Mozzarella, or whatever sounds good (and is available). One sharp and one melty.
Broth: at home I simmer up several chickens in my big pot with added onions, carrots, celery, salt and a chicken cube. I use the chicken for several different things and save the broth in ziplocks laying flat in the freezer so they will defrost quickly. The Knorr cubes are just fine though I always add an extra one for more richness. I usually break up the cubes in the roux then add water for sauce.
Noodles: I like noodles that catch the sauce and prefer the smaller sizes. Some noodles will soak up the sauce more than others, so sometimes I make another batch of cheese sauce to go over the top. I like cooking up the pasta a night before or in the morning to speed up the process.

Toppings: Some of my kids like a topping on the mac. Bread crumbs, extra cheese, cornflakes, etc.

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