Last night, the husband and I broke out of our mold and tried a new recipe for dinner: homemade macaroni and cheese from this site. It started with the mushrooms and the spring onions. There they were, hanging out in the fridge, and I had no idea what to do with them save repeat the dinner from the day before (quinoa in chicken stock with sauteed mushrooms and spring onions and steamed sweet potato). I think we would have appreciated it significantly less the second time around. To the internet!
The recipe called for a roux. I had never tried a roux before. The cooking shows (because I pay so much attention to TV) always emphasize the importance of a perfect roux, and every time a roux is mentioned, it seems to be because someone is getting it wrong. So no pressure. Also no whisk, which I understood in the back of my mind to be entirely essential.
It turns out, however, that making an adequate roux is not difficult (though you do have to make sure to cook out the flour taste), and a whisk is not essential. I used a plastic slotted spatula. In fact, there’s something very satisfying about making a roux. From a mess of flour lumps that you know in your secret soul will never come smooth emerges a smooth sauce. Then you add the liquid, and horrible clumps emerge… and then they dissolve away into a smooth sauce. The entire business of creating the cheese sauce was a dizzying oscillation between triumph and dismay, regular as a metronome. It would have been funny, if it hadn’t been me.
Meanwhile, NTS was cooking up the more regular parts of the casserole: pasta (whole grain rotini in place of plain elbows), sauteed mushrooms, spring onions. These last were no part of the recipe, but they really added to the taste. I never realized it before, but apparently, enormous quantities of cheese and milk go into real mac and cheese. 2 cups shredded cheddar, 3 cups milk. Some parmesan, had we not run out. And protip: don’t leave out the breadcrumbs. Their texture adds needed, delicious variation.
Let me tell you, though: the effort was worth it. I had never made a baked mac and cheese before, but we certainly will again.