mac n cheese

Dishes like mac n cheese are exciting to me.  A few ingredients and a million ways to put them together.  And, even though it's just a few ingredients, the results can be sublime or disasterous.

Most common, a cheese sauce is made from a roux and cheese.  It's always been touchy for me.  Sometimes smooth, sometimes grainy, just not reliable.  Cheese and condensed milk is pretty good, better than a roux, definitely more reliable.

Then a year ago I saw this Modernist Cuisine variation that uses just water or milk and cheese *plus* a few grams of sodium citrate.  While not entirely sure if it's a pH thing or an ionic strength phenomena - I don't care.  It's kind of shocking.  Warm up some water or milk, add the sodium citrate and cheese, whisk away and boom!  Cheese sauce smooth as velveeta in a few minutes.  I dumped in my cooked macaroni, blanched cauliflower, pepper, topped with panko, baked and dinner.  I'll be playing with this for some time, it's quite a trick.

For the 3 of us:
milk, 200 g
sodium pyrophosphate/sodium bicarb mix, found at Mediterranean Imports for 50 cents a packet, 14 grams
cheese, 90 grams sharp cheddar, 90 grams mozzarella
coarse pepper
dijon mustard (1T)
pasta (180 g dry) cooked in salted water
small head of blanched cauliflower
some rendered bacon

Some action shots

Here's what I used instead of sodium citrate.

It's a mix of sodium pyrophosphate, same as mentioned in the original article and sodium bicarb (that just fizzes and adds more sodium to the sauce.

The smooth smooth cheese sauce after the addition of milk, sodium salts, cheese, mustard and whisking over low heat - decadent!

Added macaroni, blanched cauliflower, topped with panko and baked at 350F convection until bubbly and tasty looking.

That's it.  Find this ingredient and go nuts - it's pretty incredible.

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