Mac and Cheese is one of those dishes that always sounds like a quick, easy fix but often ends up being more mess and work than it’s worth. However, I have learned that you can make it without roux and, honestly, it’s been life-changing.
I’ve begun treating Mac and Cheese like potato gratins, so I just heat up about 2 cups of half and half or heavy cream, infuse it with shallot or garlic and and nutmeg, plus any other herbs or flavorings or mix-ins. I remove it from the heat, then stir in 3-4 cups of cheese. Any combination—use what you have. (Don’t forget to generously season the cheese sauce, yes, even if you are adding things like bacon.)
So I farted around the kitchen this morning and ended up making: MAC AND CHEESE WITH MAPLE BACON AND PEAS
Today I started my Mac with maple bacon. I stirred in shallots, thyme, nutmeg and plenty of salt and pepper. I also added a dollop of truffle Dijon. When the bacon was crisp I added the cream, then let everything come to a simmer. I removed the sauce from the heat and added roughly a cup of gruyere, 2 cups of cheddar and 1/3 cup Velveeta. Yes, I know it’s not cheese. No, I don’t care. You can leave out the velveeta, but your Mac and Cheese won’t be as homey and creamy and your friends and family will resent you for it.
I poured the cheese sauce into a casserole dish with a pound of al dente pasta and some frozen peas. I mixed everything until well-combined and topped it with craggy olive oil, parsley bread crumbs.
I’ve already tasted the pasta, though I will not bake it ‘til dinner time, obviously. It is superb.