Watch Cooking Channel

Secrets to Great Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

I’ve spent considerable time trying all the versions of macaroni and cheese: baked, stove top, gourmet, truffled, lobstered and hot-dogged. And through them all, I’ve come up with my secrets to making a seriously great Mac and Cheese. Like most things in life, these tips are simple and straight forward, but it’s all about the details.

Legends abound on the origins of everyone’s favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese. Did Thomas Jefferson invent it and serve it in the White House after a visit to France? Or did the Italians first come up with the idea of adding cheese to noodles? Or, as some accounts tell it, was it the Chinese? This simple and delicious dish is highly documented in the 1800’s with tons of variations,, but it wasn’t until the 1930′s when the Kraft Company came out with the blue box version that Macaroni and Cheese reached icon level. But for me, life’s to short to eat Mac and Cheese from a box (sorry, Kraft!).

My Secrets to Great Macaroni and Cheese

Use good-quality macaroni.
Great Mac and Cheese has to start with great Mac. Don’t go low-end here. Find the brand that you like best and keep searching for better ones. Never settle!

Pasta for Mac and Cheese

Choose a shape that will hold as much cheese as possible.
I like to use orecchiette, the little ears or cups that look like small hats. Their shape allows them to capture a ton of cheese. Need I say more? Shells are great, and I understand that many people are nostalgic about elbows. I like them, too, but for me, more cheese with each bite is key, and elbows aren’t the best pick.

Season your macaroni when cooking it.
The biggest mistake home cooks make is under seasoning. When cooking macaroni, the water should taste as salty as the sea. I use kosher salt because I don’t like the metallic tinge that iodized salt gives off. I throw a large handful of salt into the pot when the water comes to a boil, just before I toss in the macaroni.

Cook it right.
Slightly undercooking the pasta when you are boiling it is key as it will be hydrated and engorged in cheese sauce in the final steps. It should be cooked enough to bite into but still stick slightly to your teeth. Don’t worry, they’ll be perfect when the dish is done: still with a resistant bit and loaded with cheese. A good rule is to start with heavily boiling water I use enough water to cover the pasta by about 6 or 7 inches once in the pot.

Use great cheese.
If you take away nothing else from this post, take away this: Great cheese is crucial to amazing macaroni and cheese. Use great cheese, and also grate it. I love to combine different cheeses that have varying attributes; not all cheese is built the same. Provolone has great stretch and melt, with a subtle sharpness, while Raclette is creamy and very high on the meltablilty scale. Cheddar is sharp, nicely meltable and classic in flavor. Adding in Gouda for nuttiness and color or a bit of Gruyere for an oniony sweetness elevates the dish nicely as well. But all of this is experimental. It’s on you to come up with your perfect mix. Use great cheese, grate it evenly and mix it up. Then it’s on to the sauce.

Make a sauce.
Great Mac and Cheese is as much about flavor as it is texture. You’ve taste-tested to find the best macaroni, cooked it to the right level of al dente, grated your blend of cheeses to come up with the perfect flavor and melt. Now how do you marry the two? Mac, meet Cheese. Cheese, this is Mac. I think you two are going to be awesome together! The matchmaker for a great macaroni and cheese is the sauce.

Mac and cheese must be eaten with a great beer.
My favorite is Houblon Chouffe, a triple hopped Belgian IPA. The creaminess of the beer works with the cheese but it also has some great hoppiness that cuts through its richness.

Get My Recipe for Mac and Cheese Here

My recipe for macaroni and cheese is loose: You can make it with about 1-2 lbs or more orecchiette pasta depending on how cheesy you like it, or just make the full cheese sauce recipe and as much pasta as you can handle and save the extra sauce. The sauce can hold in your fridge for about 5 days if kept covered and can be used in about 1000 ways.

But that is for another post.

Jason Sobocinski is the owner and founder of New Haven’s award-winning restaurant/cheese shop Caseus Fromagerie Bistro, host of Cooking Channel’s The Big Cheese and an all-around food lover.

Catch the premiere of The Big Cheese on Cooking Channel tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Tags:

Comments (912)

  1. Photography Techniques posted 01/18/2013

    Sites we Like……

    [...] Every once in a while we choose blogs that we read. Listed below are the latest sites that we choose [...]……

  2. Karl Beauregard posted 01/18/2013

    excellent include…

    Everyone can really consider an people excitement in art anyone assembled. This marketplace desires planned for a lot more zealous novelists as you just what precisely particular man as well as women aren’t concerned to talk about that they rely upon….

  3. Orthodontist NYC posted 01/18/2013

    Websites we think you should visit…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually worth a go through, so have a look[...]……

  4. writer to produce that content is the…

    only sure way that you get original, custom written content. here are 5 tips that will help you hire a quality content writer. find the writer: professional content writers can be found through an internet search. feel free to ask other…

  5. Vernon Martinelli posted 01/20/2013

    wonderful site web site…

    The heart in your personal earning even though showing reasonable first, have though certainly not truly reconcile properly using myself over time. Someplace onto the real phrases you seriously had the chance in earning people any kind of believer regr…

  6. Surrey used SUVs posted 01/20/2013

    You should check this out…

    [...] Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated data, nevertheless really worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got more problerms as well [...]……

  7. coach posted 01/20/2013

    Superb website…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]……

  8. singapore office posted 01/21/2013

    Gems form the internet…

    [...]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[...]……

  9. Employment Pass posted 01/21/2013

    Visitor recommendations…

    [...]one of our visitors recently recommended the following website[...]……

  10. Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  11. hotel deals posted 01/22/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  12. Credit Repair posted 01/22/2013

    Websites you should visit…

    [...]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[...]……

  13. of onebuckresume posted 01/23/2013

    Websites we think you should visit…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually worth a go through, so have a look[...]……

  14. sewa genset posted 01/24/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  15. sbobet posted 01/24/2013

    Visitor recommendations…

    [...]one of our visitors recently recommended the following website[...]……

  16. Samsung s4 posted 01/24/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  17. dryer repair atlanta posted 01/24/2013

    Superb website…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]……

  18. Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  19. hotel valet posted 01/25/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  20. Marc Bombenon posted 01/25/2013

    Related……

    [...]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[...]……

  21. Frank Lonardelli posted 01/25/2013

    Online Article……

    [...]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available [...]……

  22. Calgary Psychologists Blog posted 01/26/2013

    Websites worth visiting…

    [...]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[...]……

  23. Soal Ujian posted 01/26/2013

    Check this out…

    [...] that is the end of this article. Here you’ll find some sites that we think you’ll appreciate, just click the links over[...]……

  24. click the next document posted 01/26/2013

    click the next document…

    [...]that would be the finish of this write-up. Right here you?ll find some web-sites that we believe you?ll enjoy, just click the links over[...]…

  25. sex xxx posted 01/26/2013

    Links…

    [...]Sites of interest we have a link to[...]……

  26. singapore property posted 01/26/2013

    Websites worth visiting…

    [...]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[...]……

  27. been posted 01/27/2013

    Visitor recommendations…

    [...]one of our visitors recently recommended the following website[...]……

  28. contact posted 01/27/2013

    Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  29. marietta movers posted 01/27/2013

    You should check this out…

    [...] Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated data, nevertheless really worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got more problerms as well [...]……

  30. singapore office posted 01/27/2013

    Recent Blogroll Additions……

    [...]usually posts some very interesting stuff like this. If you’re new to this site[...]……

  31. Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  32. Pembroke pines dental posted 01/27/2013

    Awesome website…

    [...]the time to read or visit the content or sites we have linked to below the[...]……

  33. sedan $37 posted 01/27/2013

    Sources…

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]……

  34. Mckinley Delapena posted 01/27/2013

    Souls in the Waves…

    Very good Morning, I just stopped in to go to your internet site and imagined I would say I experienced myself….

  35. verano posted 01/27/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  36. money mutual posted 01/27/2013

    Recommeneded websites…

    [...]Here are some of the sites we recommend for our visitors[...]……

  37. business advice posted 01/28/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  38. iphone 5 case posted 01/28/2013

    Gems form the internet…

    [...]very few websites that happen to be detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out[...]……

  39. luggage posted 01/28/2013

    Websites we think you should visit…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually worth a go through, so have a look[...]……

  40. New GMC Canada posted 01/28/2013

    Online Article……

    [...]The information mentioned in the article are some of the best available [...]……

  41. Bathroom Remodeling tulsa posted 01/29/2013

    Sources…

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]……

  42. Eleanor Hardy posted 01/29/2013

    Superb website…

    [...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]……

  43. Dallas SEO posted 01/29/2013

    Read was interesting, stay in touch……

    [...]please visit the sites we follow, including this one, as it represents our picks from the web[...]……

  44. colonie posted 01/30/2013

    Yahoo results…

    While searching amazon I found this article in the results and I didn’t think it fit…

  45. coupons for best buy posted 01/30/2013

    Cool sites…

    [...]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[...]……

  46. Tax deductible posted 01/30/2013

    Blogs ou should be reading…

    [...]Here is a Great Blog You Might Find Interesting that we Encourage You[...]……

  47. Zalando Gutschein posted 01/31/2013

    Websites you should visit…

    [...]below you’ll find the link to some sites that we think you should visit[...]……

  48. london airport taxi posted 01/31/2013

    Websites we think you should visit…

    [...]although websites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we feel they are actually worth a go through, so have a look[...]……

  49. cheap 50 shades sex toys posted 01/31/2013

    Sources…

    [...]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[...]……

  50. Texte umschreiben lassen posted 01/31/2013

    Text Spinning…

    [...] produzieren. Jene Anforderung ist von alleine verständlich, denn eine Suchmaschine lebt von der Beschaffenheit der gelieferten Suchergebnisse. Dass dies in der Praxis unter keinen Umständen funktioniert, kann [...]…

Post a New Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

c