Friday, February 12, 2021

Really Long Macaroni (and The World's greatest Macaroni and Cheese) אַ לאַנגער לאָקש

 

What makes you happiest on Roysh Khoydesh Oder?  What most honors the cow on the New Year?  What is the richest treat for Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday)? Of course it is macaroni and cheese, food of the gods, solace of humankind.

Many of you have been asking for the World's Greatest Macaroni and Cheese recipe.  You can scroll all the way down now and read about the big noodles later.  I trust you to come back.

These gigantic macaroni followed me home from the one day and I wanted to make something wonderful with them, but had no cooking vessel big enough to fit them.  I might have tried to break them, but they were very hard, and what kind of an anticlimax would it be to break these beauties up?


 
I decided to try J. Kenji López Alt's method of pre-soaking the pasta before cooking to get it bendy enough to fit in my longest pot.  I laid them out on a full sheet pan, and covered them with warm water.  The raw noodles were 21 inches long.
 
 
Regular pasta hydrates  in 30 minutes, per Kenji, but my megaroni took over 45 minutes to get bendy.  It is some very sturdy pasta.

 
Bendy bendy bendy.
 
 

When the noodles were bendy enough, I slid them into my longest pot.  My longest pot is a fish poacher.  I do not now poach, nor have I ever poached a fish, but I have a fish poacher because Broadway Panhandler was closing and I had to get just one more pot (six years later the storefront is still empty.  I miss that place keenly). I considered getting a pressure cooker, but did not because I don't want a pressure cooker, and the remaining cooker in the store had settings labeled with the names of different ingredients, including pork.* 
 
The fully cooked noodles were just over 24 inches long.

I buttered  the lasagne pan and put some sauce Mornay on the bottom.  The sauce recipe is downstairs.  Then I laid half the noodles in the pan hanging over one end, and half hanging over the other.


Then I added more sauce, the bits of the noodles that got broken during preparation, and one pound of fresh cheese curds.

Then I folded the overhanging noodle ends over the curds.

Then all  had to do was pour on the remaining sauce and broil.

Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound macaroni (you may use gigantic macaroni, or the usual sort)

4 ounces (1 stick, 1/2 cup) butter

1/2 cup flour

4 cups (1 quart) whole milk

about 1- 1/4 pounds cheese.  This time I used cheddar, sharp cheddar, just a bit of jack, and a little American. Mostly  cheddar. The better your cheese, butter, and milk, the better the sauce.

More flour for dredging the cheese

Optional: up to one pound fresh cheese curds

Liberal amounts of black pepper and sweet and hot paprika 

Salt to taste

 

Cook the macaroni in liberally salted water.

Butter a lasagne pan or two smaller pans (if you will be baking and/or broiling the macaroni).

While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the sauce:  Melt the butter  in a large kettle and stir in 1/2 cup flour and cook for a few minutes.  When the flour is cooked, pour in the milk, stirring constantly.  Grate or crumble the cheeses and toss with a little flour and lots of paprika and freshly ground black pepper.  You  may use white pepper.  Add the cheese a handful at a time to the sauce and stir until melted.

When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the sauce. You can serve them just as they are now, or pour half the macaroni into the pan, cover with cheese curds, pour on the remaining macaroni and bake until well melted and bubbly.  Finish under the broiler if you like.

Can you put something crunchy on top?  I cannot stop you, but I never really felt the need for macaroni and cheese to be anything other than its own self.

*On another occasion I bought a more expensive, less versatile rice cooker, because the other rice cooker had a setting labeled "quinoa," and I just didn't want to be looking at that word every day.


 

 

4 Comments:

Blogger bombayduckpickle said...

Great post.
Nice use of the fish poacher pot too.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Michael Alpert said...

Right with you on quinoa. I shudder just thinking about it. Roasted quinoa can be toothsome tho. This is fab by the way. Bendy bendy bendy...

8:27 PM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

Way back in 1992, before quinoa was even in the scrabble dictionary, I worked in a restaurant where a cook from Ecuador made a delicious soup with the q-ingredient. He soaked it overnight and discarded the water. This step make a difference

2:24 PM  
Blogger bombayduckpickle said...

We routinely make quinoa tabbouleh. We cook the tabbouleh with a little bouillon in the water, then rinse after cooking. Lots of chopped parsley, + chopped scallions, tomatoes, and cucumber. Dressed with lemon and a bit of olive oil. Great with any Middle Eastern dish.

2:55 PM  

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