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Wednesday, January 04, 2006 

The Winter Cook - Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and Lots of Cheese
By Julia Moskin

With the cold weather firmly entrenched here in the Northeast, Moskin looks at one of the true comfort foods of the region...or any region, Macaroni and Cheese. After looking at a number of lder recipes, which are really Macaroni with cheese sauce, rather than real cheese, she sets out to find the ultimate receipe.

Some of her thoughts:

The macaroni must not be slippery and soft, but firm and substantial. This is not the time to bring out your whole-wheat penne and artisanal orecchiette: elbow pasta is the way to go.

One of the most surprising recipes I tried called for uncooked pasta. Full of doubt, I mixed raw elbow noodles with a sludge of cottage cheese, milk and grated cheese. The result was stunning: the noodles obediently absorbed the liquid as they cooked, encasing themselves in fluffy cheese and a crust of deep rich brown.

The last decision - to top or not to top - is easily dispensed with. Resist the temptation to fiddle around with bread crumbs, corn flakes, tortilla chips and other ingredients that have nothing to do with the dish. When there is enough cheese in and on top of your creation, a brown, crisp crust of toasted cheese will form naturally. There is nothing more delicious.

Recipes:

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Crusty Macaroni and Cheese