04 March 2012

Spicy Mac and Cheese (From Scratch)

It may not be the bright orange, from-the-box delight that was ingeniously designed by Kraft. But there is something about the marriage of pasta and cheese sauce that just makes my taste buds grateful that the two foods were ever invented to begin with. So when I texted my husband to bring me home a box (not realizing that just moments before, he left grocery store), I figured it wasn't worth crying over a missed opportunity. I'd just make the dern stuff myself.

Here's how it went down (remember, I'm not one to measure when I'm experimenting, so bear with me):

  • uncooked orzo pasta (or whatever shape floats your boat)
  • chicken broth
  • water
  • black and red pepper
  • shredded cheese (I used cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan because it's what we had)
  • lightly salted butter
  • 2% milk
If I had to guess the amount of water and chicken broth I put in the pot, I'd say it was around a cup. I wasn't planning on draining this pasta because it's so small, so I figured I could always add more liquid as the pasta plumped. Once boiling, I added the orzo (maybe 2/3 cup???). It cooked for about 8 minutes to reach al dente status (I also reduced the heat and stirred often so it wouldn't stick). I really hate mushy pasta, so I aim for firmly cooked.

With the liquids absorbed and the pasta was the right firmness, I added a pat of butter and just enough milk to start a sauce. After the butter melted, I threw in the shredded cheeses (the Parmesan I shredded myself because we keep a block of it in the fridge). Amounts are completely up to you. In our kitchen, cheese makes the world go 'round. There could never be too much.

Finally, I stirred until the cheese melted, adding in the black and red pepper for the kick. You could add salt if you are feeling it, but the cheese has plenty of that in it already.

Enjoy while hot. If you feel like really going crazy, add other favorite foods to the mac and cheese, like fresh tomatoes, chili peppers, sauteed mushrooms, or cubed ham. Let me know what you added to your bowl of cheesy awesomeness.

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