“Sometimes I get so excited while eating mac ‘n’ cheese that I forget to breathe.”
Here is a kicker for ya. How many of you know that the modern day Mac and Cheese actually dates back to Ancient Rome. I am not kidding y’all. One of the earliest known recipes dates to 14th century’s Liber de Coquina. It is also mentioned in Forme of Cury by Samual Pegge published in 1390. Below is that recipe, followed by a more modern version.
Oh, by the way, not much has changed in the recipe.
Forme of Cury p. 46/A23
Take and make a thin foil of dowh, and kerve it on peces, and cast hem on boiling water and seeth it wele. Take chese and grate it and butter cast bynethen and above as losyns and serve forth.
2 c flour
about 2/3 c cold water
about 3 c grated cheese (we used Swiss and Parmesan)
about 4 T butter
Knead flour and cold water into a smooth, elastic dough. Roll it out thin and cut into broad strips (1″-2″ wide). Boil it about 5-10 minutes (until tender). Put it in a dish, layered with grated cheese and butter.
Tilly: Quite good fun practicing the pronunciation! I shall seethe some pasta wele this evening.
Olive: Tilly did you cast bynethen and above as losyns. Whatever that means.
Tilly: Of course I did!
Mac and Cheese (Modern)
1/2 lb elbow macaroni / 226.79 g
4 tablespoons butter / 59.16 ml
6 ounces milk /170.09 g
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce / 2.46 ml
1 teaspoon salt /4.92 ml
fresh black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard / 2.46 ml
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded / 283.49 g
1 In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta til al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
2 Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.
Tips, you might want to add more milk, depending on how creamy you want it.
Tilly: Lordy – who the hell measures 283.49g or 4.92ml? Thought Americans measured in cups and spoons?
Olive: Tilly, we do and they are used in the Recipe, get your eyes checked girl.
Tilly: Where does it mention quantities in cups in the recipe above? Less red, Olive, less red.
Then of course Germany got into the fun.
Käsespätzle with Caramelized Onions
The Ultimate Mac & Cheese
2 ½ batch of homemade German spaetzle
or a package of store bought ones, Olive
2 ½ cup of caramelized onions
10 oz shredded Emmental Cheese
1 ¼ cup bread crumbs
2 ½ tbsp butter or oil
Herbs to garnish optional
Cook the spaetzle as indicated in the recipe, or on the package and pre-heat your oven to 375F.
In a pan with butter, fry the cooked spaetzle noodles until lightly golden brown.
Mix the fried spaetzle with the caramelized onion and half the Emmental cheese. Portion into two casserole dishes and top with remaining Emmental cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake the käsespätzle for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted on top.
Garnish with fresh chopped herbs such as parsley and serve!
The cooking times do not include the time required to caramelize the onions, or to make spaetzle from scratch. It only accounts for the assembly and baking of the käsespätzle casserole.
Olive: Which is why I suggest you buy the spaetzle
Then there is Scotland.
Hot Water Pastry
120ml water (1/2 cup)
100g lard (1/2 cup)
250g plain flour (2 cups)
250g macaroni pasta (2 cups)
55g butter (1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons plain flour (23g)
500ml milk (2 cups)
200g grated cheese – ideally a Scottish mature cheddar (2 1/2 cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
A little extra grated cheese for the top of the pies
2 tsp mild or Dijon mustard – optional
Hot Water Pastry
Lightly oil the pie tins or jam jars/glasses. You can also cover the jars/glasses in cling film to stop the pastry sticking.
Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle.
Cut the lard into small cubes and add to a pot of hot but not boiling water. You don’t want it to boil so keep an eye on it and keep stirring.
When the lard has melted pour the mixture into the flour well and mix together with a wooden spoon. Turn it out onto a well-floured surface and knead a little, adding extra flour if it’s sticky. You’ll need to work reasonably quickly as the pastry cools.
Divide the pastry into even balls, the amount of these depends on the size of the tins or jars/glasses you plan to use. We made four good-sized pies and had pastry to spare.
For pie tins, roll each ball our to about 5mm depth and about 20cm width and put in the pie tins. Run a knife along the top edge of the tin removing any excess pastry to give a straight edge to the top of the crust.
For glasses/jars, roll out the pastry as above, but then put over the bottom of the greased/cling filmed jar or glass. Mould the pastry to fit the jar and then cut around for a straight top to the pastry case.
Put all of the pastry in the fridge to harden for about 30 minutes while you make the macaroni. You can leave it overnight if you want to.
Boil the macaroni for around 8-10 minutes in a large pot until just cooked. Drain and set aside.
In another pot, melt the butter. Add in the flour and continue to stir or whisk the mixture until it starts to froth up, which should be around a minute.
Remove from the heat and slowly add in the milk while still stirring.
Return to the heat and bring to the boil while continuously stirring so it doesn’t stick.
The mixture should start to thicken, you can then turn down to simmer and add the cheese. Continue to stir so it melts into the sauce.
Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and add mustard if you like for some extra flavour.
Assembling the pies
Turn your oven on to 180°C or 356°F to preheat (fan oven).
Take the pie casings out of the fridge. If they’re on jars/glasses you’ll need to work them off gently before the next step.
If you’re adding haggis or another variation you can put that in the pie case or mix with the macaroni first.
Fill the cases with the macaroni cheese, not right to the top but almost. You can squish it down gently with a spoon so that it’s fairly compact.
Sprinkle a little grated cheese across the top of the pies.
If you’re not using tins, tie baking paper and string around cases and then put them in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes. They may need a little less or longer depending on the size. The pastry should be a nice golden brown colour when they’re ready.
Tilly: Bet it came about as an economical way to fill hungry bellies. Naturally, I’d add some liveners to the pasta – garllic, herbs, maybe some chilli. Be great on cold days at a rugby match. It would stick to your ribs without a doubt.
Olive: Tilly there is enough in this recipe, it does not need garlic.
Tilly: Says who?
Then there is Tilly’s recipe.
Tilly: I like to make the Italian version – penne quattro formaggi – with Taleggio (mature), Fontina or Gruyere, Gorgonzola and Parmesan. And garlic, and parsley. I love how the sauce fills the penne and escapes when you chew, rather than merely coating the pasta. Lots of recipes list double (heavy) cream as an ingredient but I find that too rich and prefer the milk-made sauce. The cheeses aren’t swamped by the cream, either.
Olive: Or you can make my recipe. 1 jar of your favorite store bought cheddar cheese dip, mild, medium or hot. Cooked macaroni, drain your macaroni and spoon in your cheese dip. That is it… really good, cheap and not labor intensive…
Tilly: It if is anything like that ‘cheese’ in tubes, I think I’ll stick to making the sauce from scratch!
Whichever one you make enjoy.
Tilly: And have seconds.
Olive and Tilly