Food Obsessed: Mac ‘N’ Cheese

by in View All Posts, March 3rd, 2011
Alton

I don’t clearly remember the first time I had macaroni and cheese. It’s just always been there. The first time I made mac ‘n’ cheese, my friends and I made it out of a box and we added Bac-O’s for flavor. It wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t bad either. Lesson learned: even bad mac ‘n’ cheese can be delicious.

It wasn’t until I was an adult and eating in restaurants that I realized how good a real baked shells and cheese could be. I became obsessed with finding down-home cheesy perfection.

Chat ‘N’ Chew, a downtown NYC staple, has one of my favorite basic baked versions. It’s not fancy, but you get a lot of it, and it hits that perfect blend of crispy topping, warm cheese and noodle-y goodness.

When I’m craving a taste of my Bac-O’s disaster, I indulge in Tipsy Parson‘s Mac ‘N’ Cheese with slab bacon. The smoky flavor perfectly slices through the sharp Vermont cheddar and delivers an extra protein punch.

More recently, the newly opened Little Cheese Pub has set my obsession on its head with rotating versions of the comfort classic. The Dutch Kas Mac has all the traditional elements, but the cheese is Gouda and it’s topped with beer pretzels. It’s exactly what mac ‘n’ cheese should taste like, but somehow better. They also have versions with Manchego and mozzarella cheese. It’s practically criminal.

Hungry yet? Try one of our chefs’ versions at home or tell us where the best mac ‘n’ cheese is in your town.

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Comments (24)

  1. adam says:

    The Mac and Cheese pancakes at Shopsin's are divine:

    Peanut oil, for the griddle

    Butter, for the griddle and serving

    3 cups pancake batter, like Aunt Jemima frozen batter, thawed, or homemade (see here)

    1 heaping cup cooked elbow macaroni, tossed with olive oil and warmed

    1 1/4 cups shredded cheddar

    Grade B maple syrup.

    Clean the griddle by running an oily cloth over it. If the cloth snags, scrape to remove, then wipe down the griddle with peanut oil. Set the griddle over moderate heat. Pour a thin layer of peanut oil over the griddle. Just before you drop the batter, run cold butter across the area where you are going to cook. When it bubbles, drop the batter in 4-inch circles and immediately raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, adjusting the heat as needed, until bubbles appear, 1 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of warm macaroni on each pancake, then 1 tablespoon of cheddar. Using a thin metal spatula, quickly turn the pancakes and gently tap to make them uniform in thickness. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Serve, macaroni-side up, with butter and warm maple syrup. Makes about 12. Recipes adapted from “Eat Me,” by Kenny Shopsin and Carolynn Carreño.

  2. michelle says:

    Last night I had the Mac 'N' Cheese Spring Rolls at Nolita House in NYC. It's basically just wrapped in a wrapper and friend (naughty) and comes with a sweet and sour sauce for dipping. While it seemed a little much, it was actually really good! The tang of the sauce cut the richness of the mac.
    I'm also a big advocate of baking Mac 'N' Cheese in cupcake tins (sometimes adding a beaten egg to bind). That way I can freeze 'em and when the urge comes I don't have to reach for the "Blue Box".

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