Rendered Fat Content


Miep de Feijter:
Hans en Frans verkleed als Alkmaarse kaasdragers
[Hans and Frans work as
Alklmaase cheese carriers] (
c. 1928 - c. 1941)

" I eat my share warmed over …"

A time will come, because it always has, when I will once again be called upon to make "my" Mac&Cheese, my famous Mac&Cheese. My Mac&Cheese became famous because The GrandOtter liked it, or, more properly, loved! it. I made it for a few dinner parties, too, and many proclaimed it the very best they ever consumed. It thus became famous, though dinner party proclamations tend to be heavily lubricated and contextualized by a generalized camaraderie. Nobody ever openly criticizes dinner party dishes, and some gushing seems common to all of them, still, I had reason to believe that my Mac&Cheese was at least pretty good. I knew it was unusual, for I didn't use milk in my cheese sauce. I used stock, which makes a fine sauce without delivering what usually turns out to be a milk pudding sort of base. My Sauce Velout
é provides a better foundation for the cheese. I also usually avoid using actual macaroni in my Mac&Cheese.

Mac&Cheese is always, really about the cheese.
I take advantage of the opportunity to clear out the old cheese compartment in the refrigerator door, or, more properly, the old cheese accumulated there. I base my sauce with very old, extra sharp cheddar, white's better, but amend it with dried up odd bits of anything answering to the label of cheese needing disposal, except for those so moldy that I cannot find the cheese beneath their coating. I whisk finely grated cheese into my finish Velouté, reserving some for sprinkling over the top next to my Panko crumb/butter topping. The whole thing consumes an obscene amount of butter and cream, not to mention the cheese. I typically use two or three times the prescribed amount of cheese called for by any of the popular recipes. My cheese content easily qualifies as obscene.

If I don't actually use macaroni, what do I employ? Any tubular pasta will do, but I've come to think of Cavatappi as the real Mac&Cheese macaroni, it's the pasta shape the original formulator of the dish would have used, had Cavatappi been invented then and in common use. It's twisty tubes with good surface grooves, perfect for holding sauce. Its length makes it much easier to fork into an open mouth without overmuch spillage, an important factor for those of us prone to trail our entre
és down our shirtfronts, and also for babies, who tend toward messiness when eating and who also tend to love my Mac&Cheese. Important considerations, these, which modern cooks should have at least considered before continuing the dish's founders' innocent oversights. That stuff in a box belongs in the box and should, short of dystopian apocalypse, never leave its box. Its contents are an abomination unto God. Period.

I use my homemade stock in my Sauce Velout
é. I've used chicken, veal, goose, turkey, duck, and beef stock, each different and each very much the same. Some batches come out darker than others, and sometimes, my cheese sauce Velouté comes out looking more like brown or red gravy than the milky sauce most of us have come to expect from our Mac&Cheese. I can say that, taste-wise, the color hardly matters, but none of us eat with our blinders on, so color does seem to matter. The darker sauces tend to look burnt when adjacent to the Panko crumb topping, unless, of course, one manages to overbake that top, then the whole dish might be considered a visual flop. If the cook can simply convince his diners to try a taste, they'll usually find some semblance of delight. Pickier eaters deserve their own punishments.

I struggle every time to combine these essentially simple ingredients, and I've over time failed in almost every possible way when creating this dish. Even the failures usually proved eatable, though they strained the cooks limited creativity, for he felt moved to name the dish he presented to sufficiently distinguish it from what might be expected from anything labeled Mac&Cheese. Mac&Pleas comes to mind, for I didn't go to all of the bother, make all those mistakes—some of them even original—to have the resulting supper rejected for any reason. I won't mind if people only feel moved to pick around the edges, and even remain unoffended if people leave some or even most of it on their plates. I object to any wholesale rejection without at least availing in a taste, however preliminary or tentative. My Mac&Cheese is first and last a creative product, a one of a kind, never before produced experiment, and expected to be appreciated for the effort I exerted in creating it, if not for any satisfaction resulting from attempting to swallow it. It almost always shows pretty well. I eat my share warmed over, for breakfast the next morning.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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