Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What to make when you love cheese but don't have an oven. No. Not Cheetos.

A couple of years ago, in summer, our oven stopped working.  This pissed me off, because I like to have working appliances, particularly those appliances that cost big bags of money to replace.  Because it was summer and we grill pretty much all the time and the stovetop actually still worked and we had a toaster oven, we put off buying a new oven.

You'd be amazed at how much you need an oven when you don't have an oven.  Even in the summer.

One of the reasons I needed an oven was because the girl and the husband are fiends for home made mac & cheese.  They love it.  I confess, I was not a fan of mac & cheese growing up - we very seldom had it, and I never grew to enjoy the taste.   I know, what a heathen.

That being said, I started making mac & cheese for the girl and the husband and then I'd try it and it grew on me.  I like the tang of the cheese and the heft of the noodles.  It makes your mouth happy.

The girl and the husband [and I] were very sad without mac & cheese, so I searched in my cookbooks [Joy of Cooking, Martha Stewart's Cooking School and Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa the holy trinity of cooking - or maybe just the 3 actual cookbooks I own] and online for a good stovetop recipe and found one by Alton Brown.  Who I enjoy, because he is hilarious.

And I now want to share this with you.  Because what a perfect time to share this recipe, when the temperature here and across most of the country is like the surface of the sun!  You can't pick a better time for warm, cheesy pasta!  It's a super easy recipe. I've added my own twists [MORE CHEESE] and used different kinds of milk and it ALWAYS comes out most excellent.

Without further ado:

Ridiculously Delicious and Easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese [Please stop buying Kraft]

1 lb pasta - I usually use shells or elbow noodles, but fusilli and those little wagon wheels also work well
2 TBSP butter
A buttload of cheese - usually about 12-16 oz.  I use a variety of whatever I have on hand, but at base it's mostly a sharp cheddar rounded out with a few ounces of other complementary cheeses.  This time, I used cheddar, colby jack, a bit of blue cheese, some fresh mozzarella that needed to be used up and some asiago.
4 eggs
12 oz evaporated milk, OR 12 oz of heavy cream OR half & half OR 2% milk.  Whatever you've got in the fridge or pantry.
Mustard powder or mustard, about 1TBSP
Kosher salt
Unseasoned breadcrumbs [optional]

1.  Boil your noodles according to package directions.  Be sure to use a large pot, because the whole recipe is cooked in here.  I leave the noodles slightly underdone by a minute or so, since they'll continue cooking while the other ingredients are added.  Sometimes, I overboil the noodles and then I cry as I eat the mac & cheese, my tears mixing with the cheesy goodness and adding a slightly salty tang that I find kind of delicious.  I'd probably find it more delicious if I were eating the tears of my enemies, but we can't have everything, can we?
Still a bit undercooked, but yum! Macaroni!  Thanks, China!  And Marco Polo!
2.  While the noodles are boiling, whisk together the 4 eggs, your milk product and the mustard.
I know it looks like boogers, but it tastes like heaven.  Heavenly boogers.
3.  You'll also have to shred your cheese, unless you have minions to do this for you.  I find this kind of relaxing and therapeutic.  It's also an easy way to taste test the cheese before you add it to the recipe.  For science.
 3.a.  Speaking of science, here's the kind of rocket scientist you're dealing with here:  I have been using a lot of lemons in my cooking recently, and a number of recipes ask for lemon zest, and every. fucking. time. I get pissed at myself for not having a Microplane or any kind of zester.  What kind of kitchen am I running here?  A shitty one.  Anyway, the last time I made mac & cheese, I was minding my own business, shredding cheese on my box grater, thinking happy thoughts, when I realized that this?
CHEESE!  [Yes, that is a bottle of Evian in the background.  I am an effete elitist.]
 has another side that has this:
You know what this is? YES. A TINY GRATER.
And that both can be used to remove the rind from a lemon.  TA DA!

4.  Drain your noodles.  [Wow.  That sounds pervy.]  Don't rinse, just put them back into the pot and add the butter and stir over the lowest heat.
I am actually not a fan of buttered noodles.  Too buttery.
 5.  Add the milk & egg mixture and stir until it heats through, about a minute or two.  If you happen to curdle the eggs, it's not a big deal.  It still all comes out delicious and people like scrambled eggs.  Actually, they don't even notice because they are in a mac & cheese coma. 

6.  Turn off the heat.  Add the cheese in batches, stirring to melt.  If necessary, turn the heat back on to the lowest setting, but there should be enough heat to melt that gooey, delicious cheese.

7.  Season with salt and pepper.  Take your time and add small amounts, partly because you don't want to over -salt or -pepper your food, but mostly because then that way you can keep tasting it to make sure it's good.  [It's good.]
I know, right?
 OPTIONAL STEP 8.  If you want, you can dry saute some unseasoned breadcrumbs to toss over the finished product, but you have to watch this carefully because that shit will burn like paper and then stink up your kitchen. 

9.  EAT!!  This makes a ton of mac & cheese, but I usually end up making the whole recipe because then we have the leftovers for lunch for a day or two [depending on how many people ask for some].  I have actually called the husband at work and yelled at him for taking the whole container of leftovers and leaving none for me and the girl, it's that good the next day.

So, if it's 95 degrees with 100% humidity and you feel like cooking something nice and hearty, here's your recipe.  ENJOY!


  1. The kids and I used to eat that orange Kraft macaroni and cheese crap. And loved it. Until Mrs. Penwasser pronounced it crap and started making her own homemade macaroni and cheese.
    Which is awesome.
    Like K-Mart, Kraft sucks.

  2. I'm not a fan of mac & cheese as I've always only eaten the premade shit and they're awful.

    Yours however? Looks yummy! You should link up today with stayathomebabe.com as she does Good & Tasty Tuesday!



    Okay. Sorry for yelling. But I couldn't help myself. As soon as I realized this post was going in the direction of stovetop mac and cheese I thought of Alton's recipe. Is it not the BEST?? I think I have a post dedicated to it somewhere on my blog as well. I would eat the shit out of this every day of my life.

    Along with the tears of my enemies - great line, btw. ;)

  4. Oh, I super LURV mac and cheese. I'm hungry just reading this. I haven't made a stove top version, but I have ROCKED THE OVEN ONE.

    Tears of your enemies...you're a card :)

  5. I have never eaten mac and cheese before. Not ever. Not once. I didn't even know how to make mac and cheese. See - this is why we really, really need to be neighbours. Because when I'm all floppy on the floor like a dying fish - tired from continuously changing the final third of my novel you can be all "Jo - come over, come have a rest my love, I made you mac and cheese," And then I would cry tears of joy and then you would hug me. And then we would go to Target. Because you live near one (apparently) and I still don't know what that is.

  6. I just died a little bit right there.

    My wife is a terrible person (sorry, i meant lactose intolerant) and I haven't had homemade Mac 'n Cheese ever since i made the lamentable decision to attach myself to someone who can't even stomach the intoxicating smell of warm melting delicious cheese.

    I can't even have cheese on my eggs she's so sensitive to the smell.

    I know, it's awful.

  7. And now I believe in God again. Well not really, but I sure as hell believe in mac and cheese.

  8. Once I found cheese at the store grated with chipotle in it. That made the BEST mac n cheese. YUM.

  9. YUM! I can't eat Mac and Cheese anymore (lactose intolerant) and I miss it...a lot. I'm drooling right now over your recipe.

    Also, I have lived in my apartment for two years. I've not once used my oven. I think I've used my stove twice...to boil water for sterilizing something or another. I don't even use my microwave that much. I think I'll send you my appliances as you can provide them a better home than me.

  10. You MUST MUST MUST write a cook book!!! I would read it and cook from it (and I hate cooking)! I love you!

  11. Okay, now I have to try this. I make a pretty mean mac and cheese (not to toot my own horn, but beebmotherfuckinbeep) but this sounds amazing. Husband would loooooove the blue cheese in it.

  12. i just heard my thighs getting fatter.

  13. Than you very much.

    Why bother eating it, I'll just spackle it to my thighs now.

  14. My favorite part? "Drain your noodles. Wow, that sounds pervy." You, are officially a member of my cool kids club. Except that doesn't exist. But if you like mac n cheese this much, we'll make one!

  15. Between you and Jen B, I'm sold. Mac and Cheese, stovetop style, served with the tears of my enemies. On the side please. It is what's for dinner. So just to clarify, if your oven was working, you would still prefer this over the baked kind?

  16. Amateur! Even *I* have a zester.

    (My mom got it for me.)

    (I don't know how to use it.)

    (I should probably mail it to you.)

  17. I love mac and cheese. This recipe sounds wonderful ! I love the idea of using a variety of cheese.

  18. I made mac and cheese for dinner tonight! So, basically, I'm saying you're too late.

    Far, far too late.

  19. First time I've commented on your blog, but I have been reading it for a long time. Without commenting, it kinda feels a little like stalking, so what better time to change that feeling than when you do a post on my favorite food ?!

    So hello, and I think you're delightfully witty !

    And I will also be making this Mac and cheese very, very shortly...

    :-) Jac

  20. I remember watching Alton's mac & cheese episode & wanting to make this. I make a pretty stellar mac & cheese, but it's not easy - you need to prepare a roux, and then let a sauce thicken, and shred a shitton of swiss, cheddar, jack, and provolone cheeses, and then bake it all. But, it's so worth it (and, if you replace the provolone with bleu cheese, it's so much better, though you lose a fair portion of the audience who might eat it, and since I usually make this for pot-luck dinners, and you 'win' at pot-luck when you take home an empty serving tray, I seldom make anything but the more-popularly-eaten variety).

    My trick is a breadcrumb topping that's made with crushed cheez-its and a lot of melted butter. Mmmmmmmm.

    I need to make this, though - we've been serving way too much craft to the kids, and I'm pretty sure that the powder from Kraft is just powderized cancer particles.

  21. I made this with my minions...they ate all my cheese BEFORE it went in the noodles. Then they ate half the noodles and I got so distracted I over cooked the noodles and scrambled the eggs (in my defense with three kids under 7 I was lucky I didn't burn the house down) and this still stuff still turned out GREAT. I don't know how it happened.

    Then the kids flat out refused to eat it when it was all done (EWWW, its all touching each other) so now I have to eat it all myself.

    I can live with that.

    I think I have to take the kids in for genetic testing since they don't like it THEY CAN'T BE MINE.

    That pop, pop, pop sound??? Those are my thighs and buttocks getting bigger by the pound.

  22. Or you could buy Amy's Organic Mac-n-Cheese and throw it in the oven...if you're me and you don't really cook. However, your recipe does look quite kick ass. Throwing some veggies and a little pepper in there and it's perfect.

    If you're going to do Mac-n-Cheese, it has to be in the oven. No questions asked.


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