Introduction: Creamy Macaroni and Cheese!
So you've got a box of Macaroni and Cheese, but you're not 12, and the powdered sludge of a sauce makes you throw up in your mouth a little bit? I hear ya, but don't look down on those noodles, they're still ready to make your mouth water and your tummy happy! Let's take that box, use everything in it, and make something delicious!
Oh, and I've included the recipe in a couple of handy printable sizes. No need to read through a 1000 word essay about the significance of the first time I ate mac and cheese as a toddler from the tray table of my high chair.
Here's a list of the ingredients and tools we will need:
- Boxed Macaroni and Cheese Dinner (Take your pick, any will do.)
- 2 Strips of Bacon (or more, I'm not your mom)
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 1-2 clove BLACK Garlic (Minced Black Garlic is fine if you can't find fresh)
- 1.5 c Milk
- 1 c shredded Mozzarella Cheese (plus a little extra for sprinklin')
- 0.5 c Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 0.5 c Cream Cheese
Step 1: How to Boil Water
To start, we need to get some water boiling for the noodles and crisp up some bacon, So tear open that box and throw it away. This is normally the point where you go dig the box back out of the trash to read the instructions, but we don't need em! Boil up some water (6-ish cups in a medium pot, does anyone really measure this?).
While the water is boiling, get out your favorite skillet and fry up some bacon. Not too crispy, not too soggy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel to remove excess grease, but hang onto that bacon fat in the pan, we will use it later. Chop up the bacon and set aside.
When the water reaches a rolling boil, add macaroni noodles and cook until al dente* (Usually 5-7 minutes). Give them an occasional stir, so your noodles don't stick to the pot or each other. Strain and set aside, It's cheesin' time!
Oh that nasty cheese powder? Don't toss it! I... have... an idea...
*al dente: cooked so as to be still firm when bitten. If it's soft enough to chew, but gives a little push back, you've got it!
Step 2: Sidetrack Snack Attack!
So you're tired of people bothering you and trying to sneak a taste while you're cooking? Popcorn to the rescue! Pop a bag, then toss it in that cheddar cheese powder to use as bait for stray kitchen folk and children!
Fun fact, the ingredients of the cheese packet match the ingredients of popcorn cheddar almost perfectly!
Now where was I? Ah yes...
Step 3: Roux Roux! All Aboard the Cheesertown Express!
Train jokes. Listen, "roux" doesn't exactly lend itself to puns, ok?
All great mac and cheese sauces start with a good roux. flour and fat cooked together until brown and nutty. Grab your butter and a tablespoon of that rendered bacon fat and melt down in your pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, salt, and that delicious black garlic. If you've never experienced it, it's a whole different world of flavor compared to plain old garlic.
Continue whisking until it smells of a delicious nutty aroma and the flour has lightly browned.
Time to get cheesy...
Step 4: Next Stop, Cheeseville.
With your roux in top form, it's time to add your milk. Pour it into the roux while whisking, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Continue to whisk until the mixture starts to boil. It will quickly thicken. Remove the pot from the heat and grab your cheese!
Add in your mozzarella, parmesan and cream cheeses and whisk until smooth. The sauce is incredibly gooey and ready for service. Add the noodles back to the pot and fold them in. Oh my goodness, so cheesy!
Step 5: Let's Take It to the Next Level
Technically this dish could be done, but that's boring.
Grab your favorite baking dish, and transfer the mac and cheese flavor train into it. Crumble the bacon across the top and sprinkle on a little more mozzarella for toasting. Broil until the cheese just starts to brown and remove.
Now we're talking! Look at that delicious gooey dish! All from a box of discount store mac and cheese (and a little help from its friends). Serve it up as a side or as a main dish. The flavors from the cheese blend and black garlic are out of this world!
Step 6: Conclusion
I hope this dish returns some luster to the fond memories macaroni and cheese left in your childhood. It's dish that warms the soul and fills the belly, and shouldn't have to suffer because of that lame dust that comes in the box. If you make this dish, I'd love to hear about it! Thanks for reading, and happy cooking!
Participated in the
Out of the Box Challenge