There is a methodology to pasta shape in determining its effectiveness as a carrier of cheese. This is science. Do you want a consistent coating? Then choose something with surface ridges to gather the sauce: rotini, radiatore, gemeli, fusili. Do you like an inherently lighter-feeling sauce? Get something with a flatter surface area, like farfalle or orechiette. Do you want a every noodle to have a molten saucy core? Go for shapes with multiple small holes: zitis, fiori, elbows, cavatappi, or the ones shaped like wheels. I never want an unfettered pooling of of cheese sauce, which is why I never choose things with gaping expanses in their surface like shells or rigatoni, which are both too... I don't know, I guess slutty, to be useful for this purpose.
Because of the complexities above (and because I like to eat mac and cheese with Wingstop, who inexplicably does not sell it and requires me to make it separately after the delivery arrives), I am very aware of the wonders and pitfalls of this dish, and am perfectly happy with individual cartons of EVOL Pre-Cooked Frozen Macaroni Bowls of the time. Why?
Because homemade mac and cheese is not that good for how much work it is to make it. It's always two pots, which is one more than I am willing to use. There's always ROUX which I consistently fuck up when I try to make it. And I don't like that homemade pasty and fluffy blandness that comes from doing this 'the right way' — a blandness that cannot be fixed, no matter how much dry mustard you add or how much of the cheese bag you use.
I also hate it baked. It's not a casserole, people.
So due to overthinking and obsessive tendencies, I realized that you can skip the separate sauce-making step and just cook it all at the same time. You don't even have to drain it. If everyone on earth made mac and cheese this way, natural selection would eradicate the lactose intolerance gene from our species.
Effortful time: 12 minutes
Total time: 12 minutes
2 cups pasta, any shape
2 cups whole milk
2 cups cheese (triple cheddar blend and optional parmesan)
Dry mustard (it tastes like cheddar smells)
- Dump the milk into a saucepot. Bring to a low boil. This will burn immediately so watch it.
- Add the pasta and stir. Lower the temperature so it barely bubbles. Check every few minutes to make sure it hasn't congealed. It should look reduce into what looks like thin white paint.
- Cook for however long the box says.
- Turn the heat all the way down. Add black pepper and dry mustard. Throw in half the cheese, stir, and add the other half. Stir until all the cheese melts.
- Feel it turn to concrete within your digestive system.
- Forget this regret as you reheat the next day's leftovers, realizing that it, like men or scabs, improves dramatically after you've left it alone for awhile.