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Four Cheese Macaroni from Cru Cafe @ Charleston, SC

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    Four Cheese Macaroni from Cru Cafe @ Charleston, SC

    This was originally published in a recipe book called "Signature Tastes of Charleston" where several local restaurants gave up one a recipe for one of their best known dishes.

    http://crucafe.com/

    Lots of cheese in this one people!!!

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    #2
    Gol dang, that looks good, HC. Thanks for posting the recipe. I like the fact that it uses cheeses and cream and not a béchamel sauce. Sometimes my béchamel sauce-based mac&cheese concoctions turn out gritty. I hate when that happens.

    I grew up pouring melted Velveeta over elbow macaroni, boom, done, end of story. Great mac&cheese. But later when I expanded my cooking horizons I figured that the béchamel sauce method was the way that all good cooks (including Meathead) went with this recipe.

    Perhaps you all can tell me what I'm doing incorrectly. The gritty texture/taste to mac&cheese does not happen all the time but certainly is linked, I believe, to the use of flour in the classic recipes for this dish.

    Kathryn

    Comment


    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Oh its a huge thing!

      Just take your little brick of leftover, dip in egg and panko (or whatever you like) and deep fry.

      Good stuff!

      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/p...se-recipe.html

    • _Keith
      _Keith commented
      Editing a comment
      Always add hot to cold or cold to hot. Never warm to warm. And if you're getting a black roux in just ten minutes, turn your heat down! Mine is barely darker than butter

    • _Keith
      _Keith commented
      Editing a comment
      My problem with straight cream for the sauce is that a bunch of oil separates when you go to heat the leftovers. The brick thing happens in either case for the same reason butter is a stick at room temperature and something you can pour once you heat it. Heat leftovers slowly and stir frequently and you'll get most of your original consistency back when you use the bechemel

    #3
    Ya know, HC, I think I need a trip to Charleston soon! The Mac n' Cheese looks great...not to mention the other stuff served up in the Low Country!

    Comment


    • Ray
      Ray commented
      Editing a comment
      Very tempting! And I'll bet you don't have wind chills at-15F like I do.

    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Nope, but we did get down to 21 the other night. Holding steady at a chilly 38 right now.

    • Ray
      Ray commented
      Editing a comment
      That would feel like springtime here!

    #4
    As others have pointed out, using béchamel for a base gives you a creamier sauce that doesn't harden as much when cool. In the biz, I have used both methods, and still prefer the béchamel. However, béchamel needs to be "cooked off" after the dairy is added for a few minutes. This helps the sauce to "stabilize," so to speak. Then, I add the cheese, reserving some to mix directly with the pasta, and for topping. The "secret" of the above recipe is the fontina. Creamy and complex in flavor, it really punches up the "cheesy" flavor of a good mac. My favorite 4 cheeses for mac are: sharp cheddar, white cheddar, fontina, and gruyere. I've used this combination for many years and it is both foolproof(when incorporated into a good béchamel), and very cheesy. By the way, this same technique also makes fantastic Au Gratin and Scalloped potatoes as well.

    Comment


    • _Keith
      _Keith commented
      Editing a comment
      How would you say fontina compares to
      a) smoked gouda?
      b) Cooper Sharp?
      c) havarti?

      I generally combine one of those with extra sharp cheddar with good results, but I'm always open to variety

    • HC in SC
      HC in SC commented
      Editing a comment
      Fontina and gruyere are 2 of my fav's. Can't beat melted gruyere on a hot ham and cheese sammich!

    • Strat50
      Strat50 commented
      Editing a comment
      The best way I can describe fontina is its creamy like jack or havarti, a bit skunky like parmesan, with a bit of sharp "cheddarness" thrown in. I love gouda for sauces, I just forget to keep in stock at home..lol Havarti is also wonderful, but has a more delicate flavor. I only sparingly use any sharp cheddar as they can be gritty if used in quantity. That's okay because a little goes a long way.

    #5
    Nope, Keith, my roux is never black! I'd lose my southern cooking creds if that ever happened. It takes about 45 minutes for my roux to get to that lovely dark copper penny color used for gumbo and other recipes. But certainly after 10-15 minutes it's gone past the blonde stage into the warm tan color, usually.

    Point taken about adding hot to cold and cold to hot. I've never heard of that, which is why I love coming here--there's always a new method to try!

    Strat50, I don't have trouble with the sauce breaking when I use the béchamel method--just the occasional situation where it tastes gritty. It's smooth as silk, just tastes gritty. That's why I think that whatever I'm doing, the flour is not well incorporated. Perhaps, as you have pointed out, it's the cheese. I don't use pre-shredded cheese because I'm concerned about the stabilizers that may be present. Usually I use Troyer Red Wax Hoop Cheddar with some Monterey jack thrown in. Maybe I need to change cheeses. Your foolpproof method sounds terrific. Thanks for the tips.

    HC, I should have known you'd have a tasty way to eat that leftover mac&cheese brick! It sounds pretty good. Thanks.

    Kathryn

    Comment


    • fzxdoc
      fzxdoc commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Strat50 and Keith for your help. You guys are the best! I'm definitely going to use some of your all's suggestions in my next grownup mac&cheese venture.

      Kathryn

    • _Keith
      _Keith commented
      Editing a comment
      As Strat50 mentioned above, it may be the cheddar. If that varies from time to time, grittiness could too.

    • fzxdoc
      fzxdoc commented
      Editing a comment
      I think you and Strat50 are on to something, Keith, because I make the béchamel the same way each time, and the gritty mouthfeel in the cheese sauce only happens now and then. That certainly points to the type/brand of cheese used as the culprit.

      I'm going to add a creamier cheese like Fontina, as Strat50 suggests and pay more attention to using a specific brand of cheddar until I have this thing figured out. Plus I'm going to follow Strat50's recommendation to cook off the dairy in the béchamel a couple of minutes before adding the cheese. I really am indebted to you two for helping me figure this out. I'll be making some mac&cheese this weekend--got to get to the store first for the fixins.

      Thanks again!

      Kathryn

    #6
    Thanks guys. All of this new info on the bechemel with instructions makes me want to give it another go. To be honest my roux chops don't really exist - other than a standard cream gravy for fried cubed steaks, but don't tell anyone or my official Coon Ass affiliate certification could be permanently revoked. LOL

    Comment


      #7
      All cream gravy is just a béchamel with stuff. If you can make that, you can make any thickened sauce. Béchamel is just one of the 5 mother sauces. Also, you don't need to use a roux either, cornstarch or arrowroot will also make a good sauce too. No rules...

      Comment


      • HC in SC
        HC in SC commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks Strat!

      #8
      No rules...my kind of cooking!

      Kathryn

      Comment


      • Strat50
        Strat50 commented
        Editing a comment
        If I followed the "rules," I wouldn't be the chef I am today. After the house is built, then I'll open my own restaurant. The only rules(in a culinary sense, at least) will be good food. The customer decides this. It's not up to them to "get it," its up to ME to "get it." I hope my clientele are folks like you ,and the great folks I've met here.

      #9
      I tell you what Strat if I'm ever in Alaska, and one day I really hope to... my dad and I have plans to drive there (as soon as I can get a month off work and the cash to boot)... I promise I will stop in your place. I'm quite confident I wont be let down.

      Comment


      • Huskee
        Huskee commented
        Editing a comment
        I hope we're still in contact when that day comes, I'll take you up on that. Any nice sized pike up there?

      • Strat50
        Strat50 commented
        Editing a comment
        There are a TON of pike here. In my area, they were illegally introduced, so there is no limit . In other areas, mostly fly-in, they are common. The same flies, lures and techniques I used on pike, when I lived in the Midwest, work well here too.
        Last edited by Strat50; January 11, 2015, 02:46 AM.

      • Huskee
        Huskee commented
        Editing a comment
        Cool! Pike are the best eating IMO (of lake game fish readily found here in MI that is, not counting salmon or trout). My dad has spent 40 years mastering the method of deboning pike, he can do it with his eyes closed. They are his favorite. Pike are only fun to catch though if they're small (20-24") or big (35"+). The small ones have the fight in 'em still. Bigger ones are just lazy slugs but fun to pull up!

      #10
      This! This is what I've been looking for. Can't wait to make it!

      Comment

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