Oh, we all know that feeling. Cold winter’s night and a real need for a hard starch and cheese decadence. One that you can already feel your arteries clogging up from. But not all of us can afford it, and then there is also ‘n very vague defining line between affording it, and really affording MacCheese, right?
We can look at MacCheese in two different ways today: Rich Man and Poor Man. Let’s see how far we get…
The Rich Man’s MacCheese can be varied down to your own budget, or non-budget capacity, but I will give you an impressive one for now. After that you can surely play along with all sorts of nice add-ons, and new ideas.
Rub butter or fat into a deep oven dish, lavishly. Add to that a whole packet of raw macaroni, which ever kind you like. In a pot, on the stove, make a thick white sauce using either Gran’s traditional white sauce recipe, the Roux way or you can cheat like I do. I add to about a liter of whole milk / full cream milk a chunk of approximately 100g of margarine or butter. Now you ask me how much that is? If you’re holding onto a normal 500g brick of margarine, you should take just under about a quarter of this. Add approximately a cup full of flour. I really do not mean your favourite coffee mug, that would be way too big. Use one of the cups you make coffee in when someone visits and you do not want them to stay too long, or get too comfortable. A pinch of salt later and you stir this over a hot plate until all has melted, spread, dissolved and slightly thickened. Once you can pick that whisk up and the sauce is still sticking to it slightly, you’re okay to move on.
Now you add to this 2 – 4 of your favourite cheeses. You may cut them up into small pieces or slivers, if you do not wish to grate it. And face it, who has time for that? Besides, that just creates a whole extra utensil to wash! Please remember to, at least, add a cup (250ml) of each type. This may be Cheddar, or Gouda, or any nicer cheese you personally prefer. Keep in mind however, to completely spoil yourself to a cup of each if using four different kinds. Opting for only using two types, I would suggest using four cups in total.
Now enjoy yourself whilst stirring the cheese delicacy until it has spread evenly. You do not even have to be sure that all the cheese has melted. Just ensure that it is spread and melted a little. Pour this mixture over your macaroni and dollop a couple blobs of margarine here and there. This is now ready for the 180˚C oven you’ve had been getting ready in the background. But before you do, if you prefer, you may now whisk up an egg into a little bit of milk, and pour this over the dish. With no lid on top, place the dish in the oven carefully, without burning your arms or fingers.
If you think about it, all that really needs to cook, is the raw macaroni, and that really does not take very long. Leave this in a ready 180˚C oven for at least 30 – 45 minutes, depending on how brown the sides become. We don’t want crunchy MacCheese!
As I said, this is surely MacCheese to impress a special someone right at the beginning of the month. What about the lean days then? Don’t fret, I have a trick up my sleeve for the last week of the month too!!
You’ll really follow all the instructions as with the expensive one, but things change obviously when it comes to the cheeses you would use. You have a choice here, i.e. a packet of cheese sauce powder or cheese flavouring could come in handy and is not all that expensive. This you will not add in huge quantities, but merely as a teaser. and of course you will not quite be as generous with the dollops of butter.
You can however leave it both the margarine dollops on top and the expensive cheeses out of the white sauce all together. Buy yourself a small block of cheap cheese, you know, one that costs R8 or R10 only (Yes, I did say ‘small’). Cut this into slivers or small dices, and sprinkle it around on the raw macaroni. After you’ve poured in the sauce, stir things around just a little and bake this brew in the oven, keeping your fingers crossed. Trust me, with a glass of ice cold water with lots and lots of ice cubes, and that shining smile on your face, your date will lick off her lips for more than just the delicious MacCheese..
No, silly, I mean purely that she will know you understand how to stretch a dollar!
© Delene de Wet