Ideas in comfort food

Although I clearly don’t mind using the occasional additive in my cooking, my collection of modernist food chemicals is still far from complete. So while everyone else I know has been busy making the macaroni and cheese from Modernist Cuisine, I’ve had to hold back, for want of carrageenan. (I do have the sodium citrate, though.)

Enter Ideas in Food. They have an elegant solution to the problem of carrageenan’s availability in quantities appropriate for the home cook, by leveraging the fact that it is a widely-used additive in other retail products. To that end, the recipe for macaroni and cheese in their book calls for evaporated milk, which already contains both the melting salt (in this case, disodium phosphate) and stabilizer (the carrageenan I’m lacking). Best of all, it’s easily available at the grocery store.

I followed the recipe almost to the proverbial “T”; the only change I made along the way was to add the rest of the can of milk to the pot as the pasta cooked, because the sauce seemed a little thicker than I wanted. (The original recipe calls for a whole can in the first place, but it also gives a weight, which amounted to only a portion of my can. I imagine the cans are a slightly different size in the U.S.) Everything else went perfectly, and the end result was everything you could want from mac and cheese: a rich, unctuous, cheesy carb bomb. It was ridiculously easy, even if it required a bit of lead time to hydrate the pasta.

So this is now my go-to recipe for macaroni and cheese. I’ve got leftovers that I’m heating up as a side dish for dinner tonight, but most of all, I’m looking forward to trying it out with some different varieties of cheese.

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