Today (July 14th) is National Mac & Cheese Day! We’ve gone through several iterations of mac & cheese at the Larder- trying to figure out how to make the cheesiest, creamiest, most delectable way to make mac & cheese. We talked to Chef Dara Tesser to find out how we make our mac & cheese and her personal tips on making cheesy noodles!
1. Hey Dara! Can you tell us how BKLYN Larder’s Mac & Cheese is made? What’s the process?
At BKLYN Larder, we make our mac & cheese Prairie Breeze and Ossau Iraty (1:1 ratio!)- Prairie for the tang and creaminess, and Ossau for the slight funk and melt-ability. We start by cooking the pasta and making a bechamel. Then we mix it all together, top with breadcrumbs and bake until golden brown.
2. Cool! How’s this different from how you make Mac & Cheese at home?
At this stage in my life, with a one-year-old and another baby on the way, I am all about ease and convenience when I cook at home: I am a one-pot mac and cheese maker. Cook the pasta in water and milk, let the liquids reduce. Add in a little mustard and cheese (whatever I have in the fridge- usually cheddar, American, or Swiss. I like to use a combination of American- because it melts so well- with some cheddar or Swiss.) to the pot. The reduced liquid, with the starch from the pasta, will help create a beautiful sauce.
3. What should we keep in mind when choosing cheeses for Mac & Cheese?
Crappy cheeses, like single-wrapped American cheeses, just don’t melt well or they make the sauce too thick. That being said, I also I don't find it necessary to spend a lot of money on really fancy cheeses for mac & cheese. Try to choose a deli cheese that melts well, like Gruyere or Cheddar.
4. Any other general tips for the cheese-lovin’ masses?
A good mac & cheese is all about balance. Make sure pasta is cooked al dente, as it will continue to cook a little more in the cheese sauce. The cheese sauce should have some richness, with a contrast between creaminess and tang. Pre-toasting the breadcrumbs in butter ensures a golden brown color and crunch.
P.S. For tips on getting a meltier cheese, check out our blog post on The Best Way to Melt and Find Melty Cheese.