Favorite Mac & Cheese hacks

Yesterday I set a big chunk of meatloaf in a nest of m&c. I like one bowl meals.

What’s this about applesauce with m&c? Is this worldwide, like cinnamon rolls with chili?

Sodium citrate.

Yeah, it sounds like one of the dreaded “chemicals” that everyone gets so wound up about, but it’s just one of the end products of the reaction between citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, along with water and carbon dioxide. So pretty benign stuff.

Anyway, when you use a specific quantity of it along with some water, it effectively acts as an emulsifier for cheese. More specifically, if you dissolve 11 grams (about 2 tsp) of it in 265 ml (1 1/8 cups) of milk or water, and then use a stick blender to add 285 grams (4 cups) of cheese to it, you end up with a cheese sauce that’s got 3 ingredients (cheese, milk & sodium citrate), and that has a very creamy and silky texture that you can then mix into your cooked pasta (2 cups dried) and have very decadent macaroni and cheese.

It’s similar in texture to the Kraft Mac and Cheese Deluxe or Velveeta Shells and cheese, but the beauty of it is that you can use whatever cheese/blend of cheeses you want. If you like Vermont white cheddar, you can go that route. Or you could go with Gruyere, Fontina, or whatever. Or one that we’ve liked at our house is grocery store medium cheddar with a good dose of parmesan. The one caveat is that for whatever reason, you have to go a bit higher in sharpness/funk with this recipe than you would expect based on the way cheeses taste out of hand.

Here’s the ur-recipe for it:

Silky Smooth Macaroni and Cheese - Modernist Cuisine

Standard Kraft out of the box then at the last minute stir in a bit of real cheese while it’s still hot enough to melt. Yum.

I like my mac’n’cheese topped with something crunchy, so my current obsession is mac with crushed flamin’ hot cheetos on top. IT’S SO GOOD! don’t knock it til ya try it :sunglasses:

Never heard of this particular combination, but apples and cheese are often paired. Likewise for cinnamon and chili, especially the Cincinnati version.

Fun fact - sodium citrate acts as an anticoagulant by binding calcium in blood which is why it’s used in drawing blood for coagulation tests.

That’s all I’ve got.

After the blood is drawn, lightly drizzle it over the mac n cheese.


I used to work at a restaurant that let us order meals at half price during our shift. Most entrees were in the $12-16 range, but there was a kids’ mac and cheese for only $7 that consisted of a pretty generous portion with a legit restaurant-quality cheese sauce. One of my co-workers came up with adding sliced serrano peppers (50 cents) and some crumbs from the bread slicer (free) and ooooooh man. I couldn’t be bothered to cook at home when I could get that so cheaply at work.

Fun story for those who like their Kraft un-hacked. I read a biography of Kurt Cobain that detailed his crippling lifelong depression and tendency to latch on to strong women who would mother him. One time he and Courtney Love were staying in a hotel and she was trying to get him to eat something, anything. The only thing he would eat was Kraft Mac & Cheese, because, I guess, it was his comfort food. She called room service and gave them very specific instructions, and instead they sent up some gourmet dish with real cheese and a baked breadcrumb topping and probably some peas or fancy smoked ham or something, I don’t remember. She flipped out and threw it back at them, saying “I told you bastards, it has to be PLAIN KRAFT. WTF is this?!?” As a slightly homesick college student, I found it hilarious and decided to dress as Courtney Love for Halloween that year.

I was always a Hamburger Helper (and off-brands of the stuff) fan. Can’t indulge much now because of the sodium. A box of mac&cheese is just Cheeseburger Macaroni HH in a smaller box!

As a side note, there was a brand of M&C in central Indiana back in the late 70s and early 80s. It came in a bag and had full size elbow macaroni instead of the mini ones. i seem to remember it was “Golden Grain” brand. Anyone else remember it?

Golden Grain- yep I remember it. That stuff was awesome and we liked it better than Kraft.