Macaroni and Cheese is a food that most people love, but also have strong opinions on. There are usually two camps. The Baked Camp, and the Creamy Camp. Usually, the two never come together. I am of the Creamy Camp. I’ve always found the baked stuff to be dry, milky, and not nearly cheesy enough. On the other hand, creamy mac-n-cheese just hasn’t been the same since they took trans-fats out of the Velveeta. Used to be that Velveeta was one of those items you couldn’t go cheap on. If you got the generic version, it tasted awful. Once the trans-fat revolution took place, Velveeta just wasn’t, well, Velveeta; it tasted like it’s generic self. We switched back to generic once, and found that it actually tasted more like Velveeta than Velveeta did. Thing is, I got tired of storing the boxes in the fridge. Son liked to take them out of the pantry, and jab his fingers into them. Once they’re open, they must be refrigerated.
I had discovered, while making individual servings for Son, that I could use water and a slice of American cheese to make a pretty tasty mac, and so I stopped buying Velveeta altogether. But, making a single serving of mac is one thing. Making a family sized amount takes a lot of sliced cheese. I knew there had to be a better way. While Husband was away, I got to experimenting.
I pulled out a pot, and cooked up some elbow noodles. I shredded some cheddar, and pulled out the sour cream. I drained off most of the water after the noodles were cooked, and then returned them to the stove. I knew that in order to create creamy mac, I’d have to find a way to bind the fats in the cheese with the water still left on the noodles; if I didn’t, I’d have gritty mac-n-cheese, and who really wants that?! I knew that in order to bind fat and water, you need and emulsion, but I didn’t want to spend hours, and muscular strain, to beat the ingredients together on a molecular level. I needed lecithin.
Lecithin acts as a bridge between fat and water. One side of it’s molecule has an opening for water, and the other for fat, and the best source for lecithin is in eggs. I didn’t want to break out a whole egg, I didn’t need that much, so I thought again. In an article I read once, they used mayonnaise, which is mostly eggs, as the lecithin provider in a vinaigrette. It doesn’t take much, and I gave it a try.
It worked like a charm. A mere half-teaspoon was enough to mix a 3-serving batch of macaroni. I just moved the pasta to the edges of the pot, and mixed the sourcream and mayo together. Then I incorporated the pasta, and began sprinkling in the cheese. I stirred constantly, and adding cheese, until I got the taste and consistency I wanted. Yum! It wasn’t just a fluke, either. I tried it again on a family-sized batch later, and Husband approved. He was a bit shocked when I told him the ingredients, though.
The best part is that it cuts down on my staple groceries, and cuts out a bit more trans-fat/engineered food product from our lives. Sure, it’s a bit more labour intensive, but it’s a labour of love….right?