*Otherwise known as ALL the November macs.
It was a busy month – the nonprofit I work for holds its major annual fundraiser in November, and even though we went virtual/online this year, and even though we had a phenomenal event chair and a fantastic project manager who shouldered most of the load, there was still SO MUCH TO DO. (Although I only worked 26 extra hours this month, as opposed to the 40-ish+ I logged in November 2019.) And as good as I’m feeling recovery-wise, I guess my energy still wasn’t quite back to normal levels, because most nights I was asleep before 8:00 and on the weekends I just could not get myself in gear to deal with mac & cheese. Plus, each weekend I missed made trying to catch up the next weekend even more daunting.
So that’s why the last post was for Halloween and why I came up with this four-macs-from-one approach.
This would be a fun way to serve mac & cheese at a party – make a big vat of Classic Mac, and then line up a bunch of toppings and let people customize to their heart’s content. My theme is some of my favorite snack items – these are a few of my most frequent purchases from the cracker and chip aisle, (I’m saving my #1 favorite for its own post). But there’s no end to the things you could set out – proteins, veggies, crunchy carbs –the only limit is your imagination, time, and budget!
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 4 Tbsp. flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer extra sharp)
- Taco Doritos, ¼ cup crushed
- BBQ Pringles, ¼ cup crushed
- Cheez-It crackers, ¼ cup crushed
- Chili Cheese Fritos, ¼ cup crushed
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then cook the pasta for ~8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Heat the milk on low to just the point of bubbling, then remove from heat and set aside.
- Melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and slowly add the warmed milk, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens and forms a silky texture. Add salt to taste.
- Return to heat and add the shredded cheese, stirring until fully melted
- Combine with pasta and stir until coated.
- Top with crushed chips or crackers.
Cheesiest: Duh. Cheez-Its
Crunchiest: Taco Doritos
Heartiest: Chili Fritos
Lightest: BBQ Pringles
Going in, I thought I’d like the Taco Doritos version the best, and that was mostly true, although the Chili Cheese Fritos were right up there. The BBQ Pringles were a little disappointing, the flavor didn’t really shine through, but they had a nice light texture. The Cheez-Its added some nice flavor but I didn’t care for the texture as a topping that much. (But none of them were BAD.)
- Other topping options could be herbed croutons, French-fried onions (like what goes on green bean casseroles), these crispy garlic “chips” I occasionally find in the salad section, or pretty much any flavor of cracker or chip you like!
Posted December 2, 2020