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Chad

Mac & cheese failure

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Mmmm! I usually only make mac & cheese in the winter, but reading this thread has got my mouth watering.

Might have to get some evaporated milk to try it that way ! I've always made a white sauce, melted some cheese in and added thin slices to bake in throughout. Have to say my family always seems to tell the difference if I skimp on the quality of cheese - has to be VT extra sharp cheddar!

This orange thing?? Must be some New York cheese? Oh, wait it's coming to me. Is that the color of the packaged stuff? :huh:

Think having roux too hot and too much flour can add to graininess problem first mentioned here. It has to be nice and smooth, thick and creamy, then baked to perfection with light topping of seasoned bread

crumbs.

Mmmm....

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"I added 1T powdered mustard"

It it me or is that a lot of powdered mustard for 3 c of milk. I use a lot of Colman's mustards and they are pretty strong.

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"I added 1T powdered mustard"

It it me or is that a lot of powdered mustard for 3 c of milk. I use a lot of Colman's mustards and they are pretty strong.

I use 2 teaspoons mustard powder to 3 cups of sauce, but I have always wondered whether an extra teaspooon, making it a whole tablespoon, might be an improvement.

Could be that different mustard powders have different levels of pungency and heat. I use Penzey's Canadian, and Penzey's spices generally are pretty strong owing to freshness. I imagine Colman's must be right up there in strength.

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A flour-based roux need not be gritty -- in fact, mine never have been.  A bit lumpy, perhaps, but that's why god invented strainers.  If one is making a meatless bechamel (Escoffier #25), it's flour and clarified butter for a white roux (Escoffier #15) plus milk, onion sweated in butter, thyme, pepper, nutmeg, and salt.  There is no place in bechamel for rice flour, corn starch, or any other starch.

My point was that there is a wide spectrum of mac n cheese sauces out there. One need not necessarily stick to the traditional bechamel based sauce. Relative to some sauces out there, such as the ones mentioned above which use the egg/liason method from Cook's Illustrated, a bechamel is grainy. Whether you consider it grainy depends on your preference.

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I will say again that a bechamel should never be grainy. And while I agree that one is not limited to bechamel sauce as a base for macaroni and cheese, the original point of Chad's post was that he used a bechamel base; that means something very specific in terms of ingredients and method. We were trying to figure out why a bechamel-based macaroni and cheese might feel grainy; AFTER THAT the idea of other types of saucing came up.

Please let me know where you cook, because if you think it's acceptable for bechamel to feel grainy, I do NOT want to eat there.

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I will say again that a bechamel should never be grainy.  And while I agree that one is not limited to bechamel sauce as a base for macaroni and cheese, the original point of Chad's post was that he used a bechamel base; that means something very specific in terms of ingredients and method.  We were trying to figure out why a bechamel-based macaroni and cheese might feel grainy; AFTER THAT the idea of other types of saucing came up.

Please let me know where you cook, because if you think it's acceptable for bechamel to feel grainy, I do NOT want to eat there.

I think even the best-made bechamel-based cheese sauce cannot be as smooth as a cheese sauce made with rice flour or cornstarch. Nor can it be as smooth as a cheese sauce made with eggs and evaporated milk as in Cook's Illustrated's and John Thorne's recipes for mac and cheese. I have indeed tried all of the above sauces for mac and cheese, and the bechamel-based sauce is less smooth, more pasty or gluey, even, yes, more "grainy" than all the other sauces. It's just the nature of wheat flour. Graininess is relative.

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You know, you can buy cheese powders from King Arthur Flour. Alanz, maybe you could try making your own version of Kraft Mac & Cheese? And report on it here?

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Suzanne...

What me? Mess with the Gospel according to Kraft?

Heresy! < s >

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