Blacksburg chef recreates original 18th century mac and cheese recipe with modern twist
“Fun fact, Thomas Jefferson is actually credited for bringing mac and cheese to the U.S.” Chef T said. “Can we see Jefferson as a chef? Mmm ... I don’t think so.”
But Jefferson did have a personal chef, an African American named James Hemmings.
“He was actually one of the first Americans to be trained in France as a chef,” she said.
So Chef T is bringing that 18th century recipe to our modern kitchens.
“One of the key secrets to mac and cheese that we don’t do in modern day right now is actually cooking the mac and cheese in milk,” Chef T said.
Bring six cups of milk to a low sizzle.
“You don’t want it to come to a boil,” Chef T said.
Pasta shape is very important.
“I like to buy the large ridge noodle,” she explained. “It really holds that milk and all that creaminess that you’re getting from the milk.”
Keeping the heat on low so as not to scald the milk, cook two cups of pasta until tender.
“We’re just going to add a little bit of salt,” she said. “This probably takes about 15 minutes.”
Stir occasionally to make sure the noodles aren’t sticking to the bottom. You’ll know its ready when the pasta is no longer chewy. Drain the pasta but keep the milk for other sauces like Alfredo.
“I want you guys to see this,” Chef T said, showing off the pot the noodles were cooked in. “Clean pan. Fully clean.”
Next, pour a little bit of the milk into a cast iron pan. Then layer the pasta with eight ounces of unsalted butter and three cups of shredded sharp cheddar.
Put the mac and cheese in the oven and set it to broil or to the highest temperature possible.
“You just want to be careful. What you’re looking for is going to be that melty, bubbly, ooey-gooey,” Chef T’s voice trailed off. “Oh man ... I’m drooling right now, I can’t wait.”
Once it’s all melted together you can take it out and enjoy.
Or if you want to try it the Chef T way, add some some caramelized bacon praline to the top.
“It’s super easy for you to replicate,” she said.
Combine a half cup of melted butter, a cup and a half of brown sugar and a cup of heavy cream.
“You’re going to want it over medium-high flame and we’re going to stir it until the sugar dissolves.”
When that’s done, bring to a boil. Then add the cooked and chopped bacon bits.
“Get the slow motion of that!” She said as the bacon was poured into the caramel sauce.
Remove from heat to let thicken a bit then add it to the top of your mac and cheese.
“Oooh,” Chef Jon said after taking a mouth-watering bite.
“It’s good right?” Chef T laughed.
“I don’t know how that works so good, but it is so good,” Chef Jon said.
For National Mac and Cheese Day only, this special recipe will be served at Bull and Bones in Christiansburg.
Chef T’s Mac & Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients:
- 2 cups jumbo elbow macaroni (noodles with ridges work best)
- 8 oz unsalted butter, cubed
- 6 cups whole milk
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Bring whole milk to a simmer.
- Add pasta and salt.
- Keep at a simmer until pasta is tender; do not boil.
- Drain pasta but save some of the milk.
- In a cast iron, pour a little of the milk to coat the bottom. Then layer the pasta, butter and cheese. Don’t stir ingredients together.
- Bake at 500 F (or broil) until everything is melted and bubbly.
- Top with bacon praline (if desired).
- 1/2 cup butter (melted)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 cup chopped bacon (rendered)
- Add butter, brown sugar and heavy cream.
- Whisk until sugar dissolves.
- Bring to a boil.
- Stir in bacon and remove from heat to let thicken.
- Pour over mac and cheese. (Also good over ice cream).
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