Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Monster Mac

This recipe is a Cheese with Noodles creation.  I added components of several different recipes, along with some different things I wanted to try, then a couple more changes born of necessity.  My husband and I call it Monster Mac because it features muenster cheese and we've always called it monster cheese.  I tried thinking up a fancier, more descriptive name, but Monster Mac (like Monster Mash!) stuck. 
As implied by the name of my blog, I LOVE mac and cheese.  I'm basically always open to trying a new recipe, but am also really particular.  This time around, I was looking for a mac and cheese that was very saucy, velvety, and smooth, and made entirely on the stove.  It's unfortunate or me that by far my favorite cheese for mac and cheese (and pretty much everything else) is sharp cheddar, because it gets kind of grainy when melted.  I also hate Velveeta and American cheese with the burning fury of 1,000 suns, so adding that to help make a silky smooth sauce wasn't an option.  To combat the graininess, I decided to use cornstarch instead of flour (cornstarch makes for a smoother sauce), and used Muenster cheese for part of the cheese since it melts really nicely.  I also made sure to remove the pot from the stove before adding the cheddar because excess heat + chedder = grainy city.
The mac and cheese turned out quite well.  Lots of flavor, mellow and buttery from the Muenster but still with adequate bite from the cheddar, and definitely lots of creamy sauce.  The spiral pasta held all the sauce wonderfully and was definitely a good choice.  The sauce wasn't as perfectly silky smooth as I hoped, but definitely smoother than many cheddar based sauces.  I think it's just not possible to make a completely smooth cheddar based sauce.  Luckily, this one comes decently close!
Quick Note:  I actually think this would make a great cheesy pasta side dish (or maybe add diced ham to make a main dish?) if you only add 1/2 C milk near the end and completely leave out the cheddar.  The muenster also makes the pasta hilariously stringy as it melts- like, over the top, looks like you're making cotton candy.  As it melts and add the extra milk and sour cream, the stringiness from the muenster goes completely away, but if that appeals to you, there's no reason why you couldn't pull it off the heat and serve it before that happens.
Monster Mac
1/2 lb spiral pasta
1 3/4 C milk, divided
1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot)
2 tsp mustard
pinch cayenne
4 oz muenster cheese (mine was in slices already, I just tore it into pieces)
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 lb freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
Cook macaroni in salted water.  While it cooks, whisk together 3/4 C of the milk, cornstarch, egg, hot sauce, mustard, and cayenne.
Drain pasta, add egg mixture, and return to low heat.  Stir constantly until sauce thickens.  Add muenster cheese and cook until melted.  Add sour cream and remaining 1 C milk and cook, stirring frequently, until hot.  Remove pot from heat and stir in cheddar until melted.  Add salt to taste, then serve immediately.
Yield: 4 main dish servings, 6-8 side dish servings

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