Today I want to share some shocking truth with you. Brace yourselves. Here it comes…
The people at Kraft did not invent macaroni and cheese.
It’s true, they really didn’t. Some nice Italians in the 1800′s did. Regardless, Kraft put it in a box and nearly ruined it forever.
But not totally. There still remains, on some cloudy nights, people who are willing to share a trusted and handed down homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. I happen to know that recipe. And guess what? I am not waiting for a cloudy night. I’m givin ‘er right here and right now.
How KD can destroy a childhood
Is Kraft Dinner is only called KD in Canada? That’s what wikipedia told me. Team USA fill me in please. Yeah, yeah, I used the wiki some times. OK, all the times.
There are many evil smellies lurking in a box of KD.
- 1/4 box of KD contains 19% of an adult’s daily sodium requirement. Salt and sodium are listed 5 times in the ingredients.
- Modified food starch. What is that? Ditto cellulose gum.
- Corn syrup solids and maltodextrin, both corn sugars.
I pulled this info from the white cheddar and the original boxes. I didn’t want to be seen touching the bacon flavoured microwave cups. Cripes.
Have you heard of tartarzine? I hadn’t. I looked it up for you my peaceful muesli lovers. It’s a colour, Kraft uses it to make the orange cheese sauce orange. As the name suggests it is from tar. It is the most allergenic of all the fake colours.
Folks that have trouble with tartrazine experience- anxiety, migraines, depression, blurred vision, itching, weakness, hot flashes, rashes, sleep disruption. And here’s the big kicker, it is a known catalyst to hyperactivity. This means that kids with hyperactivity problems could just be reacting to the fake tar based colour in their Kraft Dinner.
Now to be fair I only found it listed on the whole grain Kraft Dinner. Though it was the only box that listed which colours it used.
Team Kraft does a good job making us think that their box dinner is good for us. They label them up with all kinds of sweetalk. Whole grain goodness and real cheese. FYI- my personal belief is that real cheese doesn’t come in powered form.
People- quality food hardly ever comes in a box. And it never comes in a box whispering sweet nothings about how healthy it is for you. It’s a ruse and don’t be fooled. There is nothing healthy for you in a dinner that comes from a box bearing the name Kraft.
Move your cart along that grocery row. There’s nothing to see there.
But please Sir, may we still have cheesy noodles
Why of course. Just because Kraft besmirched the good name of a cheese and noodle casserole does not mean we must ban it forever. Au contraire good eaters.
Here’s what you need to produce homemade macaroni and cheese-
- Noodles- macaroni is an obvious choice. I never use the macaroni noodle, too little and too hard for little eaters to get on a spork. Use whichever noodle tickles your fancy. I highly recommend scoobi-doo because it’s fun to say. Penne is our standard. I use rice noodles.
- Cheese- cheese makes or breaks your casserole. For the kids I use milder cheeses, mozzarella and mild cheddar. For fancy growed up noodles Gruyere is my absolute favorite. Mix a few up. Others ideas are smoked mozzarella, Parmesan, aged cheddar, goat, feta, provolone.
- Butter, milk, flour, salt and pepper. Necessary items
- Fresh herbs, prepared or powered mustard. If you are inspired.
8 Steps to make the world’s best mac ‘n cheese
I am skipping the boil water/cook noodle part. I am trusting you are all more than capable to cook noodles. If not please get in touch and we can have a remedial class.
One last thing. Cheese sauce making requires a little math. Wait, don’t leave, it’s really easy math.
- To yield 1 cup and a bit of sauce use: 1 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp or flour and 1 cup of milk.
- To yield 2 cups and a bit more of sauce use: 2 tbsp of butter, 2 tbsp of flour and 2 cups of milk.
- To yield 3 cups and more of sauce use: 3 tbsp of butter, 3 tbsp of flour and 3 cups of milk.
Grate the cheese. Or if you are a lazy home chef get out your knife and chop it up. Like, you know, me. Don’t judge, it is neater and it is much funer to eat chunks of cheese while you are cooking. How much cheese? I knew you were going to ask that. I dunno, as much as you like. And then some extra- for tasting.
Step 2. Get your pots out. That’s a freebie to keep your spirits up.
Step 3. Make ready the milk. Pour milk and heat it until warm. Use either the microwave or the stove. Don’t let it boil, just until warmed. Set aside.
Step 4. Time for the roux!
Roux is a fancy word that means that which makes thick. Or something. Add butter and flour into your pot. I use a gluten-free all purpose blend. Any all purpose works fine. I have had terrible luck with whole wheat and spelt flour. Stick to white for this job. Turn on the heat to medium high. Or so. Whisk. Whisk like your cheese eating life depended on it. No, not really. When the butter is melted and the flour is all combined- it’s roux
Congratulations! This is fancy cookery stuff and you are doing it.
Step 5. Cook the roux. Just for a minute or two until it bubbles and thickens. Keep stirring.
Step 6. Make sauce. Add the milk. Start with just a little bit at a time. Stir, wait for it to thicken, add a little more, stir…
About halfway through, or whenever you get good and fed up with the add, thicken stir exercise, add the remaining milk. Stir. Thicken.
Once all the milk is in you might be feeling a little nervous about this unthickness of the sauce. Relax and say “Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust”
Let it heat up to almost boiling and it will thicken. Stir.
Step 7. Add the cheese. Let it melt. Stir. Turn the heat down if you need to. Add salt and pepper, herbs, mustard. Any flavours you like.
Extra credit step. If you are looking to up the healthy of this homemade dish. Here’s where you can do that. Add 1 to 2 cups of pureed cauliflower or squash. Maybe even sweet potatoes. Stand by with a little extra milk to thin the sauce if needed.
Add a can of pureed white beans. WARNING: white beans don’t really taste all that good in cheese sauce. But my kids still eat it. Everyday. To fool growed ups, use very strong flavoured cheese.
Cauliflower helps disguise the beans.
Step 8. Add the noodles.
Super cheesy sauce meet noodles. When you drain the pasta, save some cooking water to juice up the sauce if needed.
Another extra credit step. You could add in chopped cooked chicken, tuna, ground beef, chopped cooked veggies. Or serve it straight up. You won’t be sorry.
This can be eaten immediately or refrigerated and heated in the oven. The noodles will absorb the sauce as it sits so make it juicer than you think you would like. Top with bread crumbs drizzled with olive oil for baking.
Now- who’s game to make some cheese sauce?