With the use of a cheap common food additive .
You can make the most delicious mac and cheese you've ever had .
It'll have the gooey silky smooth quality of processed cheese combined with the deep complex flavor of real cheese .
Basically , this is a fancy version of my dad's mac and cheese , which is made with processed American cheese .
First , that additive sodium citrate .
I ordered this from a major internet retailer .
It tastes like salt but slightly sour .
It's perfectly safe .
It's in tons of stuff that you probably eat .
We'll use some of that in combination with a pound of cheese , any cheese I'm grating up half a pound of grier and half a pound of smoked go .
I think any strong semi firm cheese would work great with this .
Put some water on the boil for pasta .
Now , for the cheese sauce , you need a quart of any water based liquid .
Dad uses milk .
I'm going to use three cups of milk and one cup of white wine because that's the kind of thing I would do goes into a sauce pan on medium heat and then the magic ingredient , one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of sodium citrate , same as four teaspoons .
This is the stuff that's already in the American cheese .
My dad uses it's an emulsifier .
It will stop the fat in the cheese from separating out as it melts .
The first time I tried this , I used two full tablespoons roughly extrapolating the proportions from a popular recipe on the internet and look what happened .
The sauce came out way too viscous .
It boiled over , it settled on top and kind of broke .
After it cooled , the texture was dry and almost chalky .
Don't use that much sodium citrate with just four teaspoons .
This recipe comes out perfect .
Then some seasoning .
I put in half a teaspoon each of mustard powder and garlic powder .
A little shake of cayenne for chef John and then some black pepper .
Dad just uses the black pepper , but put in whatever flavorings you want at this stage , just probably don't put in any more salt .
Sodium citrate is a salt and the cheese is naturally salty too .
Then I put in half a stick of butter cold all in one chunk .
I want this to melt slowly .
We're trying to form an emulsion here like making mayonnaise .
If you introduce too much fat all at once , it could break all the fats would just separate into a big oil slick .
Now I'm just gonna whisk in a handful of cheese one at a time .
Nice and slow for the same exact reason .
There are recipes online that tell you to do this with an immersion blender to make the emulsion form that is manifestly unnecessary .
As you can see , whisking does the job just fine .
This went slowly for me at first , but I had all the cheese in after five minutes .
I didn't wait until each handful was fully melted .
I just waited until it was melty .
If you don't use the sodium citrate or a processed cheese that already has it in there .
You have to use something like a butter and flour roux to thicken and stabilize this sauce by stabilize .
I mean , keep the fats from separating out .
But in my opinion , Mac and cheese made with a Roo based cheese sauce always disappoints the texture is just gritty .
This sauce is gonna be way better .
You don't even need to bring it to a simmer or anything because we're gonna bake it , just get everything melted in and turn off the heat .
My dad uses large shells .
I'm gonna try these pipe thingies .
I hope that's not actually pronounced pipe or something .
Salt the water and par boil for five minutes only .
I've said before that I think any pasta shape is fine .
But dad wanted me to say that the best thing is a hollow or concave shape that will hold cheese sauce in each bite , drain it after five minutes and then I'm just gonna bake it in the same oven safe pot that I boiled in , spray it or butter it or something .
Pasta goes back in , then the sauce , give it a stir , cover it up and it goes in at 3 50 °F for 45 minutes covered .
After that , uncover it and bake until brown on top .
About another half hour , pull it out and let it cool down for 20 or 30 minutes until you scoop it out .
You could do a breadcrumb topping on this , by the way .
But I prefer to just let the cheese brown and let the top layer of shells or pipes or whatever go all crunchy .
That tastes insanely good .
I would however , replace the grier next time with sharp cheddar .
This needs strong cheese , I think and look at the texture as I squeeze that sauce out .
It is as velvety as nuclear orange nacho cheese .
But with a totally grown up sophisticated cheese flavor .
I will never make this any other way again .
Don't be scared by this unfamiliar ingredient .
Order some and give it a chance .