Rep Note:
Macaroni and Cheese
5 November 2018

¶ It has certainly been six months since the last time I made macaroni and cheese — I think it must be more like a year. I made it for dinner this evening and found out why.

The recipe that I use is celebrated everywhere, and I loved the results for years. I got it from John Thorne’s Simple Cooking, in which Thorne attributes it to Eartha Kitt, I think. From the start, I made a significant deviation: I didn’t put the finished dish in the oven. And now I’m thinking that, possibly, that’s an important, if not necessary, step in its cooking. I was afraid that the oven would dry the dish out, as most baked macaroni and cheese is. Of course, most macaroni and cheese is really Macaroni Mornay — macaroni in a béchamel to which cheddar or gruyère cheese has been added. The Kitt/Thorne recipe is rather a custard, the sauce thickened with egg rather than flour. How to put it? Less heavy but richer? It tastes great, but you can’t eat a lot of it. Nothing like the yield, even the yield of half the recipe, which is what I’ve always used. 

Maybe the oven would do something about this richness. It’s hard to think what. But I ought to give it a try. If I can find the Kitt/Thorne recipe. I’ve been making macaroni and cheese off the top of my head for twenty-five years.

My cousin, in his Columbia grad student days, used to say — dropping his voice to his low, dramatic voice of doom — “RJ, this is not macaroni and cheese.” He would eat every scrap. 

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