Variations of Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of the most versatile dishes around. An abundance of macaroni and cheese recipes can be found in cookbooks and online, and cooks can incorporate their own personal touches with any of the recipes. The individual’s or family’s preferences should be the guide for the recipe. Any macaroni and cheese recipe can be adjusted by changing the cooking style, type of cheese, flavorings, toppings or noodles.
The cooking style determines the consistency of the macaroni and cheese. Classic macaroni and cheese is made using a white sauce, usually consisting of a combination of milk, butter, and flour. Cheese is added to the white sauce, and this mixture is added to cooked noodles, and then baked. Layered macaroni and cheese dishes are made by layering noodles and cheese in a baking dish and adding milk and butter before baking. Stove top macaroni and cheese consists of preparing the cheese sauce in a pan on the stove, adding the noodles, and heating the entire mixture in the pan. Layered macaroni and cheese generally has the most firm consistency, and white sauce and stove top macaroni and cheese have more of a liquid consistency.
The most popular cheese choice for macaroni and cheese is Cheddar cheese. White Cheddar cheese can be used, but the dish will not have the yellow color of the classic macaroni and cheese. American cheese gives the dish a smother texture. Other cheeses sometimes used for macaroni and cheese are Swiss, Havarti, and Pecorino cheeses.
Many different flavorings can be used in macaroni and cheese. Onion is used in many macaroni and cheese recipes. Cayenne pepper gives the dish a spicy flavor. Mustard is sometimes added to macaroni and cheese, but this must be used sparingly to prevent an overpowering taste. Cooks can experiment with any of their favorite spices, including garlic and nutmeg.
Toppings are usually added to baked versions of macaroni and cheese, but toppings can also be added to individual servings of stove top macaroni and cheese. Buttered bread crumbs are the classic topping. Paprika and extra cheese are also popular choices. Any topping used for a casserole can be used as a topping for macaroni and cheese.
Although elbow macaroni is the most common macaroni and cheese noodle, other noodle varieties can be used. Shell noodles are sturdy and hold the cheese sauce well. These are a favorite of children. Rotini, a spiral pasta, and penne pasta, a tubular pasta, are both good choices for macaroni and cheese dishes. They have a somewhat stronger taste and also able to hold the cheese sauce.

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