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Mac and Cheese is one of those meals that always tastes better when made from home. There are so many ways to make this oozy, melty, gooey dish that only you can know how to make it exactly to your liking! You've got to admit, Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food and will always reign as one of the top family favourite meals.
So how do you like your Mac and Cheese? With or without breadcrumbs on top. With or without lashings of hot sauce. With a blended cashew base or with a roux base? With or without veggies? To bake or not to bake? There's no right or wrong way to make it, but there are some tips I can share to help you create the Mac and Cheese of your childhood dreams.
Worrying about the sauce being too thin is something that's almost guaranteed to happen when I'm making Mac and Cheese. If this is something that goes through your mind when whisking milk into the roux, don't worry, it will thicken up in time! Even if it's not exactly to your liking after simmering, it'll get a little thicker once it starts to bake in the oven. Make sure you let the Mac and Cheese do its thing in the oven - no peeking under the tin foil until the timer is up!
There are vegan cheese products and brands everywhere you look. It can sometimes be a challenge to choose which works for what recipe. The good news is, the more you use vegan cheese, the more you'll learn. You're going to want a product that melts well; I would recommend Applewood or Violife. You should use two different cheeses for maximum flavour, and then for even MORE flavour, you should top with a vegan-friendly parmesan. I find that grated cheese works best as it melts easier, and you can get an even layer. So lookout for a block of cheese that you can grate yourself. Whatever you do, don't forget the nutritional yeast! It will give your Mac and Cheese a slightly nutty, cheesy flavour but will also provide your dish with an added touch of vitamin B12.
Cook the pasta just before you think it's done so it doesn't overcook in the oven when baking. If you're unsure about this, drain it around a minute or two before you think it'll be a perfect consistency.
You may think that Mac and Cheese is just fine without herbs and spices, but these extras elevate your Mac from a simple dish to a flavour explosion. It's common to add a pinch of nutmeg in the sauce for a subtle, earthy flavour. You can also top your Mac and Cheese with spices like paprika, cajun, or cayenne for a contrasting, smoky kick. If you are topping your Mac with breadcrumbs, add in a sprinkling of mixed Italian herbs - thank me later!
The classic choice would be to go for macaroni (you can either get straight or elbow pasta), but you can honestly use whatever pasta you want. There's no right or wrong pasta (maybe apart from maybe the long varieties like spaghetti. But if that's what you enjoy, go for it). Shells, farfalle, penne, rotini are all great options.
A roux is made up of equal quantities of butter and plain flour. I would recommend using good quality vegan butter - such as Naturli - and soy milk (make sure it's unsweetened). The trick is to whisk the milk into the mixture slowly over a gentle heat to avoid clumps forming.
To maintain the creaminess of your Mac and Cheese, bake it with tin foil on top for the majority of the time it's in the oven. Then for the last 10 minutes or so, you can take the foil off so that the top gets nice and crispy. Voila!
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