Welcome to #Food4ThoughtFriday, where we here at Muddy Paw take a moment to step back from our usual content, and talk about something that holds significance to us; whether it be a special recipe, a pivotal moment in our careers, or even an appreciation post for a beloved pet- the sky is the limit! This week, our intern Nick is sharing his own take on some iconic comfort food: Mac and Cheese!
By: Nick Manduley
Macaroni and cheese has always been a major source of comfort for me. It’s perfect to eat on a cold, rainy day, it’s a great pick-me-up for when you’re feeling down, and it’s a wonderful accompaniment to anything and everything BBQ. It’s simple, it’s comforting, and people are always happy to see it on the dinner table. It’s what we call a crowd pleaser.
When you’re a 20-something in college, however, the optimal time to eat mac and cheese is anytime you’re not sober. Picture this: it’s 1:45 in the morning, and you’ve just stumbled home from the bar with your best friend-slash-bandmate. You guys just played a super fun show with a lot of talented bands, and you decided to hit up your favorite bar afterward which always plays your favorite kind of music. While there, you guys had 2, 3, maybe 9 beers between you. It’s hard to say for sure. What isn’t hard to say is how hungry you two are! And what are you guys craving? That’s right, mac and cheese! So you grab a pot, filler’ up with some water and turn on the stove. Before long it comes to a boil, and you pour your uncooked Velveeta pasta shells into the steaming pot.
As you stand there, with your high blood alcohol level, watching the pasta boil, you begin to think how you can bring this boxed Velveeta mac and cheese to the next level. The great thing about mac and cheese is that because it’s so simple, it’s very versatile! So you decide to let out your inner Gordon Ramsey and bust out yet another pot. You get some butter, flour, and milk and make a simple roux.
This is the part of the recipe where you start to get creative! Rouxs are fun because they act as a blank canvas to your ideal cheese sauce (or whatever it is you’re using the roux for). Use any cheese and any seasonings you want! I personally decided to go with swiss cheese, as well as nutmeg, pepper, and mustard for seasonings. My mother had her own mac and cheese recipe that she made frequently when I was growing up; nutmeg and mustard were her secret ingredients. It gives the dish some nuttiness and tang, while rounding out the flavors of the cheese. After I had this homemade cheese sauce going, I decided to mix in the packaged cheese sauce that came in the box. The result was probably one of the best mac and cheese I’ve tasted in my entire life; thick, creamy, rich, and bursting with flavor. Once you’ve gotten your cheese sauce to your liking, pour in the pasta, mix, and serve!
-1 Box of Velveeta Mac and Cheese (or more depending on how many people you’re feeding)
-Flour (I probably used around 2 or 3 tablespoons, but pretty much everything in this recipe can be eyeballed, so take these measurements with a grain of salt)
-¼ stick of Butter
-Approx. ½ Cup of Milk
-Approx. 5-6 Slices of Swiss Cheese (or any cheese you like!)
-½ Tablespoon of Mustard (use your favorite! I used Heinz Yellow and it was great)
-Nutmeg (use any seasoning you enjoy!)
-Salt + Pepper (to taste)
-1 Packet of Velveeta cheese sauce
PASTA: Bring water to a boil in a medium sized pot, pour in your pasta, stir occasionally for about 7-8 minutes or until pasta is tender and then strain.
CHEESE SAUCE: Combine butter and flour in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir until butter is melted and flour is incorporated. Then pour in milk and continue to stir. Add your cheese gradually while continuously stirring until all the cheese is melted and a sauce begins to form. Add in Velveeta cheese packet and stir until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste and any other seasonings of your choice, adjust as desired. Add in your pasta, stir, and serve.