The mystery of ‘Mac ‘n Cheese!’

by Sanjeev Kapoor

You know how every country has their own special dish which all the natives go gaga over. Italians have delish pasta and pizzas, Spain has its unique paella, Mexico has tantalizing tacos, India has mazedar samosas and chaats, so on and so forth. For Americans, they take immense pride over their unofficial national dish ‘macaroni and cheese.’ No one, literally no one, has ever said anything negative about this particular dish. And once you take a bite, all you can hear yourself saying is, ‘is this for real!?’ Yes, it’s that delicious and probably one of the best man-made things on this planet. Now, we know that pasta came from Italy but do you know who thought of this dreamy, creamy duo of macaroni and cheese? If not, read on…

Solving the mystery…                      

Like we said, pasta was the Italians’ speciality. So we are pretty sure that ‘mac n cheese’ was the creation of some talented Italian chefs. The story takes us back to the late 13th century – it is believed that there existed a recipe called ‘De Lasanis’ in one of the very popular Italian cookbooks. The recipe suggests cutting lasagna sheets into 2-inch squares, cook in water and then load ‘em with cheese, preferably parmesan. This was the first ever ‘macaroni and cheese’ recipe. It became extremely popular in Europe at the time when casseroles were doing rounds in America. History also has some rumours that Thomas Jefferson brought ‘mac and cheese’ into the world but this story isn’t believed to be true. People say that he tried the dish in Italy and he loved it so much (and we agree!) that he bought his own pasta maker and served it at the white house in the 1800s. Even though he did not invent the dish, we’re sure Americans wouldn’t have known it until later, if it wasn’t for him. Applauds for the Italians for bringing the magical ‘mac and cheese’ into our lives!

How to make the perfect macaroni and cheese?

Even though there’s no right or wrong way of making this decadent dish because everyone has their own special version, but we’ve still done some research and got you some tips to master the art of making this dish.

  1. Season the pasta: Make sure to add namak swad anusar while boiling the macaroni.
  2. Get the sauce right: Preparation of white sauce should be perfect. It can either make or break the dish and in this one, we mean it. When you prepare the ‘roux’ with butter and refined flour, add cold milk and whisk till there are no lumps.
  3. Don’t skimp on cheese: Obviously, mac and “cheese” cannot be perfected without adding loads and loads of cheese. Don’t hold back, you have to be generous! Mix cheddar, processed, parmesan together and add.
  4. The proportion is important: You want it to be creamy and cheesy and not dry at all. If at any point, you feel that the pasta might turn dry while you bake it, add some water in which you’ve boiled the pasta.
  5. Extras are exciting: It never hurts to add something more to make anything extraordinary. Add broccoli florets, some cream, mushrooms or any of your favourite herbs. Don’t go overboard, we still need cheese to be the star of the show!
  6. Time to bake: Finish off your masterpiece with some grated cheese on the top. Bake it to perfection, creamy on the inside and crusty on the top. (BRB, drooling!)

Americans have a National Mac ‘n Cheese Day, do you think we should have it too?

 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.