Thursday, October 28, 2010


I did a radio interview with CBC's radio show, All in a Day, just over a week ago, about the Canadian staple, macaroni and cheese. Wanna listen to it? It's a really awkward interview cause I was so nervous. Still want to listen to it? Click this. And hey, starting tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 29th) at Metro, Black Diamond cheese bars and cheese strings, and Sargento shredded cheese will be on sale for $4.99. That means that you can make mac and cheese yourself! There's no excuse now. Don't know how to do it? Well, try my recipe below.

Before you do though, I want to say that these measurements aren't exact. I didn't spend countless hours/days/weeks testing this recipe to perfection. In fact, the producer of the radio show asked me to send over a recipe just over an hour before I headed downtown to their studio. If you know our family, you know that we rarely use recipes. When we cook (and even sometimes bake), we just rely on our past experiences and avoid our past mistakes. We go by the look, feel and smell to create the finished product, wether it be Lucy's meatloaf, my mom's experiments with making you tiao, or my version of mac and cheese. Anyway, here's the recipe.

My Mac and Cheese

1 cup                        Macaroni, Rotini or Baby Shells
4 tsp                        Butter
4 tsp                        Flour
2 cups                     Milk/Water
1½ tsp                   Chicken Bake/Broth Mix (I use the bright yellow one)
1½ cup                   Cheese (I use old cheddar, but sometimes make it with mild cheddar)
Sprinkle                  Black pepper

As I mentioned, above, these measurements are approximate. It’s all about the proportions.

  1. Boil some water and add enough salt to make the water taste like salt water. Cook the pasta to your liking (my dad likes it a lot softer, so he just leaves it to cook longer). I cook it until it’s al dente, which takes about 8 minutes (just like the back of the package says). Strain the pasta, set it aside and do not rinse the pasta.
  2.  While the pasta is cooking, bring out butter, flour, milk/water, chicken bake and slice/shred/cut the cheese up. Be sure to have more than enough of everything close by, in case you need to make adjustments.
  3. Once the pasta has been strained, add the butter and flour into the pot over medium heat. Stir and cook the roux until it starts to turn golden.
  4. Add milk to the roux and stir/wisk until there are no more lumps. This is béchamel sauce.   
  5. Turn off the heat and add half of the chicken bake. Stir and taste. If you need more, which you probably will, add a bit more, stir, taste and then see if you need to add more. You don’t want to have the chicken bake too strong, as the cheese will add more salt to the sauce.
  6. Add the cheese and strained pasta.  Season to taste with black pepper, more cheese and chicken bake. Serve while it's hot. 
This recipe feeds about two people.

Tips/trouble shooting (aka mistakes that I've made in the past):
  • If you over cook your pasta to the point where you or a loved one can't eat it, just dry them out on a baking sheet over a day or two. Use it for soups. You would rather under cook your pasta, because you can let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce (just add a bit more liquids to your sauce and let the pasta sit a bit longer before you serve)
  • If you're unsure if you'll be able to do Step 2 in under 8 minutes, just get everything ready beforehand. Oh, make sure you have all the ingredients before you start making this. I've tried to make mac and cheese before, only to find out someone had just finished all the cheese. This has happened to me a few too many times, which is why it's best to have done your mise en place.
  • I use old cheddar and sometimes mild cheddar, but I'm sure you can use something else if you don't like those two. If you want to make the mac and cheese gooey, add mozzarella.
  • Be sure to turn off the heat once you're about to add the cheese. If you don't, the cheese will separate on you.
  • If you add too much chicken bake, just make more sauce. You can put some of the extra sauce into a container and fridge for future use.
  • If it looks like you need a bit more sauce, just add a bit more of milk/water. Then add a bit more cheese if it needs more cheese.
  • Too much cheese ruins the dish! I didn't think it was possible, but just trust me on this.
If you decide to try out my recipe, please let me know if it turned out.

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