Hamburger mac and cheese
A mac and cheese with a mornay sauce made in the classic french style. My twist includes adding a slight bit of Velveeta to improve the texture, as the added calcium phosphate and sodium citrate helps emulsify the other cheese without needing as much bechamel to prevent a greasy texture and mouthfeel. Using sodium citrate as the exclusive emulsifier (instead of a bechamel sauce) was famously popularized by Nathan Myhrvold in Modernist Cuisine, but I tried his recipe and found that it tasted too unnervingly, unnaturally smooth, in addition to a chemical-y aftertaste. This recipe also includes a variation with a hamburger mixture, which adds meaty flavor and texture in addition to a hint of tomato.
- 1 lb dry rotini
- 3/4 lb lean ground beef, coarsely cut into bite size chunks (do not mix)
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked salt
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp msg
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 12oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded (use a mix of mild and sharp if you have it)
- 3oz asiago cheese, shredded
- 2oz Velveeta cheese
- 2 cups warm whole milk
- 2 tsp mustard
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water until it stops cooking.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, stir constantly to prevent scorching until it stops bubbling, about 5 minutes.
- Add flour, gradually incorporating it into the butter to make a roux. Stir actively on medium-low heat until cooked through and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Gradually add warmed milk, a few tablespoons at a time, to make a bechamel sauce. Incorporate milk fully before adding more. Mix in cheese, mustard, and white pepper, then remove from heat.
- Sprinkle half the seasoning on the surface of the onions and beef, then brown in a hot pan on high. Season as it cooks to taste with the remaining mixture. Stir in tomato paste and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Mix pasta, meat, and cheese sauce together and heat until bubbling, then serve.