National gourmet macaroni and cheese month is now behind us, but it doesn't mean we have to return to eating those irradiated looking cheese sauces and powders you find lining grocery aisle shelves.
Your basic cheese sauce is cheap, easy and quick to make. It can be as thick or as thin as you like, and because you choose the cheese the sky is basically the limit. Hello blue cheese sauce with bacon.
After the jump we'll show you how to make your own basic roux and reveal the Tipsy Boar's Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese recipe.
We grabbed some science and Michael Blum, chef at The Tipsy Boar, to help explain how butter, flour, milk and cheese become delicious. We've also posted step-by-step guide on how to make your favorite nuclear-orange cheese sauce at home.
The first step is to make a roux, a basic and important cooking technique, that's a simple paste of flour and butter (or any fat you like).
"The purpose of the fat is to coat the flour particles, to keep them from clumping together so they swell independently as the liquid is gradually added," according to the Exploratorium's Science of Cooking blog. "When a sauce begins to thicken, the starches within each flour particle take up liquid... When the starch granules initially swell by absorbing liquid, you've basically made a thickened paste. Once they've been exposed to liquid and dampened, starch granules are primed to swell more as additional liquid is added."
OK. Enough science. The Tipsy Boar's lobster mac and cheese uses a cognac béchamel sauce, which is similar to a roux but begin by simmering three large diced onions in fat until they're fragrant. Then slowly add a half cup of flour and cook for two to three minutes, until the paste begins to turn light brown. Next slowly add between one and a half to two cups of milk and whisk until creamy.
For the basic version simply a few tablespoons of butter and then slowly add a quarter cup of flour.
Strain the mixture to remove the onion and the reserve sauce. Heat the reserve sauce in a pan and slowly add cheese. Once it's melted you're done. Seriously? Yes, seriously?
"I don't like to use parmesan or Grana Padano as its very salty," Blum advised. "You want to use a smooth creamy cheese, we use mozzarella and muenster and sometimes swiss and cheddar cheese."
The Tipsy Boar takes the dish up a notch by adding a splash of lobster stock and a half-cup of brandy. The sauce is then mixed with spiral macaroni and hunks of lobster meat, topped with breadcrumbs and baked in the wood-burning oven.
The last piece of advice for when you make homemade mac and cheese is to use only rotini pasta. Out with elbows. Forget the penne. Shells ain't swell.
The little tiny spaces in the spiraled rotini pasta act as little vessels for all of that cheese sauce, giving you a gooey bite each time.
The Tipsy Boar's Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese
3 large onions
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup of flour
1½ to 2 cups milk
¼ cup lobster stock
½ cup of brandy or sherry wine
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