12 September, 2016

recreational use of cheese

i have a culinary rant that needs ranting. it's small and insignificant as rants go, but there are some who will agree with me that enough is enough. i'm talking about the recently re-discovered and consequently ubiquitous mac'n'cheese. what's wrong with good old macaroni with cheese? NOTHING! nothing at all in its natural state wherein macaroni is smothered in vast quantities of cheesy sauce, and covered in a gorgeously browned gooey cap of molten cheese.

alas, this is not the way most places serve it. typically, you get a dish of macaroni in béchamel sauce with a more or less generous sprinkling of grated cheese on top. now many foods get served with a sprinkling of cheese on top without warranting the "n'cheese" in the title. if you only put cheese on top, you're basically using it as a garnish and garnishes don't deserve their own name. you don't order an omelette'n'parsley'n'tiny-slice-of-desiccated-orange, do you? why should this be any different? my point is this (as always, eventually, there is a point), macaroni in béchamel sauce sprinkled with some cheese is NOT mac'n'cheese; it is mac'n'béchamel... with a garnish.

proper macaroni and cheese requires that the béchamel sauce be knee-deep in cheese, insofar as béchamel sauce can be seen to possess knees, and that there be a generous, nay! a heaping! amount of molten cheese on top, as an added bonus not as a half-hearted nod to the dish's name. one shouldn't wonder what kind of cheese, or if any cheese at all, was used in the making of this dish. a proper mac'n'cheese should ooze. it should holler its cheesiness from the rooftops, making the vegan and the lactose-intolerant quake in their boots.

thank you.


Cthulku said...

I respectively disagree.

The bechamel sauce in which proper mac 'n cheese should have enough strong, sharp, ancient cheddar in it that adding extra to the top would add nothing. The topping should be all about crunchy, delicious, browned breadcrumbs. If cheese needs to be added to the top, then the sauce is stingy and the cook should be ashamed. Any lesser cheeses should be relegated to lesser uses; anyone serving a mac made with jack, emmental (great for other stuff!), etc... should also be ashamed. Mac should not string: save the mozza for pizza. A whisp of garlic, salt, and pepper are the only appropriate flavourants in the crust. Cheese is a privilege, not a right!

KD or mac 'n cheeZe, on the other hand, is purely guilty pleasure.

polish chick said...

yeah, ok, i'm with you on the buttered breadcrumbs, but i do like there to be a little gooey goodness around them. molten browned cheese is sublime.

as for the spices, i never said naught about them, thanks for that.

Zhoen said...

No idea what you mean. But. I make baked pasta, with spicy marinara, and loads and loads of cheese. Crunchy on top. I think you'd like it.

Tom said...

One dose not know what the world is coming to.

Lucy said...

Only ever called it macaroni cheese, thereby giving each of the two ingredients completely equal status. It was pretty much the first thing I ever learned to cook, equipping me to leave home for university, and being British it was cooking cheddar, strong and sharp. Crisp toppings were a must, and it was fun to try different things, cornflakes, crisps (potato chips to you), bran flakes, as well as breadcrumbs, whatever came your way. Then I discovered you could, withing reason, put some other stuff in it, bacon bits, certain veg like courgettes, peppers etc but not really onions and much as I love garlic, I don't think I would ever have used it here.

Then I came to France and bacon bits became lardons, and anything with a soft body and crunchy top, whether sweet or savoury, became a gratin, and bechamel is plain and with cheese in is mornay. Though aside from the harder Auvergne cheeses, Cantal being the most widely available, sharp salty cheese, like pungent and poky spices, is sadly conspicuous by its absence here.

But before that I'd hitched up with the above who is a hater of both pasta and, to a lesser extent, cooked cheese. Can you imagine what a sacrifice that has been? Though in fact it has probably saved me from myself as other wise I would be the size of a house by now. I occasionally cook cheesy, pasta treats for myself alone.

I think this comment might be longer than your original post.