EconoChef: $3 Kraft Mac n’ Cheese

“But making Kraft Mac and Cheese better is easy.  Just add real cheese!”  But that’s wrong.  Anyone can add cheese to something but that doesn’t automatically make it better.  Pour melted cheese over a brick and see if your friends will eat it.  I’m trying to surprise people over here and the argument “JUST ADD MORE CHEESE” is insufficient for these purposes.  Let’s learn something, eh?  Let’s try to become better cooks if we can, all right?  Besides, I don’t remember asking for your opinions.

Hmm?  No, I’m not going to apologize for my tone.  I’m unemployed with no money, and all I have left is my condescending tone.  Asking for an apology isn’t very supportive of you.  Can’t you at least just give me my condescending tone?  LET ME LIVE, WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LIVE?!

To make Kraft better, you have to know how authentic macaroni and cheese is made.  If you’ve ever tried to make mac n’ cheese by cooking noodles and then adding cheese, you know that there is something more to it.  Mac n’ Cheese is not about noodles or cheese.  The key ingredient is the sauce and it’s important to note that it’s not just milk and cheese, which would make a kind of . . . cheesy . . . milky . . . substance that, although may serve as a sauce, isn’t thick and creamy nor will it hold together very well.  No, what you need is a roux.  A roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and fat that is the base for most gravies and sauces.  You can see how to make one here.

The roux is made with butter and flour, and then milk is added and then the mixture is reduced.  Introduce noodles and cheese and thus Mac n’ Cheese is made!  But Kraft and other boxed dinners take the roux out, relying on smaller amounts of milk, larger amounts of butter, and the liquid remaining in the pasta to create a pasty sauce.  It’s good but not awesome.

I’m not going to have you make a roux. Instead, forget the 2% Milk the box suggests using and replace it with heavy whipping cream.  The whipping cream is going to make a luxurious sauce and will add tons of flavor to the party.  Is it fattier?  Hell yes, but if someone ever asked me for healthy Mac n’ Cheese I’d alert the authorities because I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.  Once your noodles are cooked and back in the pot, your butter melted in, go ahead and pour in about 1/3 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream along with the Packet of Cheese Powder.  You’ll be amazed!

Now I know I said at the beginning that adding more cheese doesn’t make things better, but I was just saying that to make you focus on the sauce.  The cream will make this taste much better, but real cheese will put it over the top.  I suggest using about 4 oz of cheese as any more than that and the delicate union of noodles and cheese will topple.  Make sure it’s shredded, make sure you only add in one handful at a time, stirring until completely incorporated, with the pot off the heat.  Don’t do it slowly and you’ll have globs of melted cheese instead of a sauce, and do it on the heat and your cheese will get stringy and tough.  Take your time with this, it makes a difference.

But Mac n’ Cheese is extremely customizable, and it’s simple to take it to the next level.  Try different cheeses.  Before adding your noodles back into the pot, melt the butter and sauté some garlic and Serrano chiles for an angry Mac n’ Cheese.  Add some bacon and grilled chicken for glorious protein.  Or put it in a baking dish, sprinkle on some bread crumbs, and broil until it comes out looking like this:

The basic dish has a total price of $3, assuming you already have butter.  If you want real cheese, it gets bumped up to $6, but I only used half of the cheese and cream, so you could easily do this again and again if you bought everything in bulk.


4 thoughts on “EconoChef: $3 Kraft Mac n’ Cheese

  1. This line could have been said by my brother about two months ago as he had been unemployed almost two years up to that time “I’m unemployed with no money, and all I have left is my condescending tone.” It made me laugh out loud! Make no mistake, although he is employed and accruing some money now, he still, as always, uses his condescending tone. Love him anyway!

  2. Pingback: Jumbo Gumbo Dog | The Eternal Loop

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