Monday, November 13, 2006

Macaroni and Cheese Showdown

This year I've been asked to make macaroni and cheese for the family Thanksgiving dinner. Those who regularly read my blog know that I don't like doing things in the same old way and this side dish would be no exception. I looked over the Food Network website and found 2 promising recipes. One was from Alton Brown and the other was from the show The Best Of. As a control to my experiment to find out which was the best, I also prepared to make a box of deluxe mac and cheese.

If you look at the recipes, you can see that a lot of different cheeses are necessary. Because of this, I started my day by making a trip to the West Side Market because I knew that I would be able to get all the cheeses I needed, in the portions that I needed, at a good price.

So there are all the ingredients I used to make the 3 batches of mac and cheese. There is a whole lot of cheeses (all shredded or chopped by hand except for the bag of sharp cheeder, there is a better sharp cheeder in the green bowl), onion, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, oil, mustard powder, macaroni, and the cheese packet (I use that term loosely).

To speed things along, I boiled all of the macaroni needed for the 3 batches at the same time. It was drained from the water and set aside. I made the easy deluxe batch first which only required that I mix the stuff in the pouch with the macaroni. I put into a baking dish and topped it with buttered bread crumbs. The other two recipes were fairly simple; the only unique thing they required was that a roux be made (which is easy, just follow the directions). These were also topped with bread crumbs and baked. The Alton Brown recipe called for panko bread crumbs and the other used regular bread crumbs.

Since I was tasting the sauces while I was making them, I already had a good idea in my head as to which one I preferred. But I didn't want to be the sole decider so I had my parents sample all 3 batches. They agreed with my choice.

The winner: The Best Of.... recipe.

We all found this one to have the best flavor. It had a very smooth texture and the cheeses blended well with each other. The one from Alton Brown wasn't bad, but just not as good as the winner. So that is the one that I will be making for Thanksgiving dinner.



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