Mac n' Cheese, Please
Posted by The Artful Diner July 29, 2009 8:07AM
On a recent program, Ed Wilson, chef/proprietor of Wilson's Barbeque (which had also been featured on Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), put in a guest appearance. And the recipe that caught my eye was Mr. Wilson's take on macaroni and cheese, the most popular side at his Fairfield, CT, restaurant.
So... first of all, let me share the recipe:
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 ½ cups evaporated milk
½ stick butter, melted
Freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar
Dusting of paprika
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bring water, salt, and oil to boil over high heat. Add pasta, bring back to a boil and cook until al dente, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, evaporated milk, melted butter and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in ¾ of the cheese and add the pasta. Spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray and add the pasta mixture. Top with remaining cheese and dust with paprika.
Bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.
I should note that Food Network added the following disclaimer at the bottom of the recipe: "This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The FN chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results."
Well, the recipe looked like a winner to me and I decided to give it a shot... The results were a mixed bag. The consistency was very good, and the proportion of ingredients seemed correct, but I found that the creaminess of the evaporated milk effectively mitigated the appetizing "bite" of the sharp cheddar, which, to me, is the appeal of a good mac n' cheese recipe.
Interestingly enough, when a portion of the recipe was reheated in a saucepan the following day, every thing seemed to fall into place. The various elements apparently had time to meld themselves together, and the result was a taste memory of a childhood favorite. And I would suspect that this is precisely what makes the recipe so popular in the restaurant... It is undoubtedly made up in huge batches and then reheated in side dish proportions.
This is definitely a recipe worth savoring. My advice is to cook up the recipe, let it sit overnight in the fridge and then heat up individual portions the following day... or day after.