It's the ultimate in American comfort foods, the most ubiquitous of potluck dishes, and the cheesy king of nostalgia-inducing meals. From quick-cooking boxed varieties to treasured homemade family recipes, macaroni and cheese is a quintessential American favorite. There's even a mac and cheese festival held every year in Aspen, Colorado. While visiting the festival, I asked local chefs to share their tips for prize-winning mac and cheese:
- Use truffle oil.
It has an intense earthiness that wakes up otherwise ordinary mac and cheese.
- Make your own cheese sauce.
Some chefs use milk steeped with onion and bay leaf to bump up the flavor.
- Don’t overcook the macaroni.
Boil it just until al dente. It will cook more after it’s mixed with the sauce and baked in the oven.
- Use the macaroni cooking water in your sauce
The starch from the pasta is a perfect thickener.
- Add beer.
It contributes a little bite and bitterness to counteract the richness of the sauce.
Try out our lightened-up version of Chef Tico Starr's double award-winning Truffled Mac and Cheese.