Simple Mac & Cheese

Simple Mac & Cheese


For years I tried to top the mac & cheese
that my dad makes. I tried by making the traditional Mornay sauce with a butter and flour roux
mixed with milk and then Gruyère and all kinds of fancy cheese. But it never came out
as good as Dad’s, which uses no roux at all and is instead built upon processed American
cheese. Start by putting enough water on the boil
for a pound of pasta, and then put another big pan on medium heat. “That’s one quart of whole milk.” Then comes the cheese. A whole 16-ounce package
of Kraft Deli Deluxe American Cheese. This is different from Kraft Singles. It contains
enough real Cheddar or Colby cheese for the U.S. government to consider it “cheese.”
Other types have to be labeled as “cheese product.” “We start tearing it into pieces, so that
it melts relatively quickly and evenly.” I think it’s probably the emulsifiers in
this processed cheese that make the recipe work without the use of roux as a thickener
or binder, and the whole thing comes out much smoother as a result. “Then we take a little black pepper.” And no salt. There’s plenty of salt in that
cheese. But you could totally add some more herbs and spices at this stage if you wanted. “And it will slowly melt, over a period
of about five to 10 minutes.” Oh, and we forgot the butter. Anywhere between
a half and whole stick of butter goes in and just melts with the cheese. Keep stirring
it. Meanwhile, get yourself a pound of large pasta
shells or honestly whatever shape you want, salt your boiling water and dump in the pasta.
Par-boil it for five minutes, no more, or they’ll be mushy after they bake. You can see that sauce is nice and smooth
now. Get yourself a baking dish that’s at least 2.5 quarts and lube it up. Drain your
pasta, then it’s time to assemble. Pasta goes into the dish, pour in the sauce, stir
it around a little bit. It should look too soupy at this stage. If it doesn’t, it’s
gonna be dry and gloppy after it bakes. Covering it up for the first part of baking
will help the whole thing cook at little bit more evenly if you’re into that. I actually
don’t cover it because I want the top super dry and crispy, but you do you. In the oven it goes at 350 Fahrenheit for
45 minutes covered. Now, if you’re thinking, “This is a recipe
an 8-year-old could do,” you’re right. Grandma Ragusea started my dad making this
by himself when he was 8 while everybody was at work on Fridays, because like all good
Catholics, they wouldn’t eat meat that night. After 45 minutes, pull it out and take the
cover off, then give it another half hour or so until the top layer of cheese is brown.
If it’s not browning enough to your liking, you could always flip on the broiler at the
very end. You could eat some brown bits off the top
like a dirty thief right now, but you gotta let the whole thing rest for like a half hour
before you spoon it out, otherwise the sauce will just run out all over the plate. I like
to eat it with some salad, often on the same forkful. Acidic crunch is a great contrast
with soft richness. It might not look fancy, but for an unbiased
opinion on the taste, here’s Lauren. “I love macaroni and cheese, and I’ve
always tried to make macaroni and cheese at home, and it’s always been trash, and this
is delicious.” Yep. The flavor is stronger and the texture
far smoother than mac and cheese made with “real” cheese. Give it a chance. This
may be that childhood food memory you’ve been chasing and never been able to get back.

47 Comments

  1. Q: What exactly is "American cheese"?
    A: It's a mixture of cheeses, usually Cheddar and Colby, that have been ground up and reconstituted with emulsifiers. It melts smoothly and at low temperatures.

    Q: Can I get this "American cheese" in my country that isn't America?
    A: You tell me! I researched that topic a bit and came up with more questions than answers.

    Q: Will other kinds of American cheese work?
    A: Yeah, I've made this with Kraft Singles before. It was fine, but the flavor of the Deli Deluxe is noticeably better.

    Q: Did Kraft pay you for this?
    A: No. I'll always disclose any sponsorships. I want to avoid mentioning brand names whenever possible (outside of a sponsorship agreement), but this is a case where I really think a specific product gets a better result.

    Q: Could I make this recipe with "real" cheese?
    A: Try it and let me know how it goes! I've tried doing this with Gruyère (a classic melting cheese) and the result was a sloshy broken mess. There's a reason that more traditional recipes call for melting the cheese into Béchamel (milk thickened with roux) instead of just plain milk — the roux thickens the sauce and helps keep the fats reasonably in suspension as they're baked in the oven. As I said in the video, I think it's the emulsifiers in the American cheese that make this recipe work without roux.

    Q: What's your dad's name?
    A: Dr. Stephen Ragusea. He's a psychologist. He lives in Florida, hence the shirt, but he was born in New York, a third-generation Italian American. Yes, his second-generation New York Italian-American mother taught him to make this with American cheese. U-S-A!

    Q: Do you know your camera has a dead pixel?
    A: Yep. New one came in the mail today, along with a very fancy new lens. Future videos (and thumbnails) should have a noticeably sharper look. Thanks for watching my videos, thus providing me with the revenue for those investments!

    Q: Should I leave a disparaging comment about processed cheese products and the people who enjoy them?
    A: Nope.

  2. The fact that much of the pre-cut cheese in the US can't legally be labeled as such is probably the most American thing I've heard all week.

  3. My mom does mac and cheese the other way.

    Before the pasta is boiled, she puts butter and mixes it with the pasta.
    Then she adds a 1 big spoon of sour cream, and last but not least, she adds cheese.

  4. make sure not to fill your dish too high, I did and it spilled over and in half and hour, burned shit all over the bottom of my oven. i cleaned my oven, put a tray under my dish, continued baking, and it still turned out pretty smackin tho.

  5. I made this recipe two weeks ago and (even though I forgot to grease the pan) it was great. Today, however, I made it again but this time I added garlic powder and cumin and coated the pan with GreatValue Canola Spray. the sauce separated and got gloppy and disgusting. Do you know why this might have happened and / or how to prevent it? Thanks

  6. Totally believe they taste good but that there couldn´t be a better version with better/more ingredience is highly unlikely. Maybe it is more the nostalgia factor and the simpler taste that wins you over.

  7. One of fav mac and cheese dishes is Depression Era made with a custard of egg, milk and onion. Do some research. Soooo…. white shorts is a family uniform?

  8. Just back from the store and I was totally confused. I should have taken better notes. The confusion is between the words "processed" and "product." Cheese you squirt out of a can is processed. Anyway, I bought real cheese. Muenster, to be exact, which is great for melty mac and cheese. And a few others. LIke an apple pie, never just use one variety; instead, use several. Same with mac and cheese. Love your channel. I'm sorry you are IU. I am PU. One day we shall have a recipe challenge.

  9. I do something similar except I put in half that cheese and for the other half, I use a jalapeno pimento cheese spread. So good.

  10. Everyone talking about how Adam looks like his father, but is no one going to mention the incontrovertible fact that his father looks identical to Christoph Waltz?

  11. i always make my Mac and cheese with milk i use velveeta as well then add whatever other cheese i want it’s always better than a rou Mac and cheese.

  12. Would you recommend a double batch or a single in a flat oven safe container??? I tried a double in a Dutch oven and it got angry hahaha, but still tastes amazing!!! Thanks for the recipe!!!

  13. I made this and it wasnt salty enough but my mom ate it with some Jam and she said it was delicious So you could try that if u dont have it salty enough

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