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Wayt Gibbs

[Modernist Cuisine] Mac and Cheese (3•387 and 6•192)

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Mac and Cheese has been one of the most discussed recipes from the book so far. Coauthor Maxime Bilet has already answered several questions about the recipe on eGullet's Cooking with Modernist Cuisine thread. He, along with several other eGulleters, noted that you can probably save the cheese in the freezer for about a month, and explained that the use of carageenan makes this possible. Later in the thread, however, he does note that if you are using all the cheese right away, you can omit the carageenan, but details some of the benefits of the constructed cheese.



We hope that answers a few questions, but if not, please ask! We'd also love to see what you have done with your leftover cheese!

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Looks fantastic! Is the gouda of great importance? I wanted to try a gouda /Parmigiano-Reggiano/ smoked cheddar mix. Would I need to make any adjustments?

I've made it previously with the gouda / cheddar and it was fantastic, albeit maybe a bit too cheesy. Will give it ago again this weekend.

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lachyg said:

Looks fantastic! Is the gouda of great importance? I wanted to try a gouda /Parmigiano-Reggiano/ smoked cheddar mix. Would I need to make any adjustments?

I've made it previously with the gouda / cheddar and it was fantastic, albeit maybe a bit too cheesy. Will give it ago again this weekend.

The original recipe doesn't call for a gouda. I've used a variety of different cheeses with great success, but have had to change the mixtures consistency depending on how dry some of the cheeses I use are. For example, if you use a more aged Parm you might need to compensate with a slight increase in whatever liquids you use when emulsifying the cheeses. Alternatively, you could add more water when cooking the pasta to change the viscosity on the fly.

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lachyg said:

I'll experiment with the liquids, thanks! On page 192 of the cooking manual I'm reading 'Aged Gouda cheese, grated'. Is there an error in Volume One? I've got the second.

My mistake, I misread the original. The latest version I made had no Gouda and I glanced at those notes instead.

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original.jpg

I have to agree, the Mac and Cheese is delicious :) Here is one I made earlier. It was a bit annoying sourcing the ingredients (which were horrendously expensive!) but I really "get" the flavour release thing - it is so much better than a roux.

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Has anyone had issues scaling the pasta portion of this recipe? If I follow the 100 grams pasta/300 grams water/160 grams cheese mixture scaling I have no problems, but if I double those numbers it takes far too long for the liquid to be absorbed resulting in a watery mac and cheese or overcooked pasta.

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Tried this using Gouda, aged cheddar, and comte. Used white wine for the liquid in place of the ale. Very tasty. The cheese remained pretty soft when chilled. I froze some and plan on using it to make a hot cheese salsa for New Year's eve. Will let everyone know how it turns out once I thaw it.

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robnbill said:

Tried this using Gouda, aged cheddar, and comte. Used white wine for the liquid in place of the ale. Very tasty. The cheese remained pretty soft when chilled. I froze some and plan on using it to make a hot cheese salsa for New Year's eve. Will let everyone know how it turns out once I thaw it.

So, how did the hot salsa go?

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Has anyone had issues scaling the pasta portion of this recipe? If I follow the 100 grams pasta/300 grams water/160 grams cheese mixture scaling I have no problems, but if I double those numbers it takes far too long for the liquid to be absorbed resulting in a watery mac and cheese or overcooked pasta.


There are issues when scaling this recipe, and that is no wonder. Three factors will influence the resulting thickness:
  • Which cheese you use. It seems to be quite popular to change cheeses.
  • Which pasta you use. Different kinds will absorb differently.
  • Evaporation during pasta cooking, given by how hard you boil and the area of your cooking vessel vs amount of water.

I guess this means that you need to double the surface area of your pot when doubling the water/pasta to get double the evaporation.

My solution have been to reduce the water somewhat when doubling, and to ladle of some water when the pasta is al dente. I can then add some of that water back to adjust thickness/viscosity of the finished mac&cheese. This is also beneficial if you use other cheeses that are harder or softer.

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I really guess I'm going to have to calibrate my scales, because I attempted this recipe last night and the result was a total failure. I had scaled the whole thing up by a factor of 4.74 because one package of elbows is 474 grams. I used citric acid crystals from the indian grocery... what molarity of citric acid is supposed to be used here? I was way off, though, because the resulting soupy, grainy liquid never really solidified even in the refrigerator overnight and it was far too acidic. The resulting ph might be in the 4-5 range.

I think i need some better landmarks for the recipe, such as what should the proper ph be of the beer/water/citric acid/iota carrageenan mix? Also with over 200 kinds of wheat beer at the beer distributor, it's difficult to know how what different characteristics each would have.

one thing that disturbed me was when i measured about 47.4g on one scale, the same thing "weighed" 35g on the other scale... i have bought a calibration weight. although those results disturbed me, i just forged ahead anyway, with disastrous results.

another possible problem might have been the temperatures of everything... should the heat be turned up as i add the cheese and hand blend so that it stays very hot or should the mixture be allowed to cool down significantly as the cheese is slowly added to the water mixture?

I really would like to have success with this recipe so i'm willing to throw another $20-$30 in cheese down the drain again to get it right...

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Thanks for that zmaster,

I was at the times talk today with Nathan and he seemed to say that citric acid would work, but I guess what I really need to understand is what's going on. I should experiment with lemon/lime juice or vinegar just to see if it's all about the acidity, or is something else at play here? I guess i ought to order some sodium citrate and see for myself just how it differs from citric acid... do you know what the differences are? is one being a salt, going to imbue a higher salinity? i'm in the dark here on this one, and i guess I was too lazy to google so far.

-Dave

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Dave,

I wish I could add something about the sodium citrate vs citric acid, but I cannot. I like others just do a net search and come to conclusions. So as a guess and it is just a guess, is that the reaction of sodium carbonate with citric acid forms multiple bonds. Just a google search, but I think that these multiple bonds could help prevent cheese sauce from separating. An outlet that may help is Dave Arnold or Harold McGee. All I know is that I have never had a failure using the sodium citrate. I purchased a large container from Willpowder.com as they had the best price. What I can add is that I do cut down on the amount of salt I add as with the cheese and the other items, the full formulation comes off as a little salty for our tastes. I have used both milk, beer, wine, water for the base and they have all turned out just fine. Good luck.

Ricky

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Can you comment on making sodium citrate from citric acid? It's basically just a neutralization reaction which can be performed with any one of sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide (the first being the most likely in a kitchen setting, though they all feature in recipes in MC), producing only water and/or CO2 as by-products.

 

Basic idea for getting sodium citrate is to add citric acid and baking soda to water. If you want powder for later use, you can boil the water off at this point, but I've had success making it to order; that is, just adding both to the mac and cheese liquid base in the proper proportions and continuing with the recipe (this actually does add some extra water but only increases the liquid quantity by < 1.2% in the standard recipe). More info here: http://forums.egullet.org/topic/136959-cooking-with-modernist-cuisine/page__st__720__p__1809026#entry1809026

 

My question is which is the right thing to use: anhydrous trisodium citrate or trisodium citrate dihydrate? I've come to suspect the latter since most commercially available sodium citrate seems to be dihydrate (at least, when they say what it is). It's not the end of the world if you use the wrong one as it's essentially just a 14% difference in potency, but it'd be nice to know which is intended.

 

If we should be using the dihydrate, then the linked preparation actually yields 114.0g trisodium citrate dihydrate (and if boiled off, should be done below 158 C/316 F: http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs11705-012-1206-4 ). If made to order, 100.0g of trisodium citrate dihydrate can be replaced by 71.45g citric acid monohydrate (or 65.33g anhydrous citric acid) 85.69g baking soda (which yields 12.25 excess water or 6.13g if using anhydrous citric acid; in any case this is < 0.8% of the liquid in the recipe). If you do this, make sure to add the add the baking soda slowly or use a large container since lots of CO2 bubbles are produced and can overflow if you aren't careful (especially on a stovetop where the heat accelerates the reaction).

 

- Sharif

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oh this is exactly what I was looking for... I'm going to try to make some tomorrow!

I had ordered sodium citrate from 1pmproducts on Amazon Marketplace, but it's been about 2 weeks and i haven't seen a thing. Making it myself from readily available citric acid powder and readily available baking soda seems just so much easier.

I like the idea of simply adding the right amounts of the two ingredients even better, if that works.

-Dave

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