Technique Tip – Kraft Mac and Cheese

I make a mean homemade Mac n Cheese, but sometimes convenience saves the day. Most of the gang prefers Kraft over Velveeta boxed mix, so that’s my go-to.

First, this product is ruined by the common mistake of overboiling the noodles. The time frame indicated on the box is way too long at 7 to 8 minutes. Check your noodles for doneness after 5 minutes of boiling. I’ve never gone over 6 minutes without disastrous results (note: I reside under 10,000 feet elevation, so mile-highers, adjust accordingly). Once the noodles are water-logged, all hope is lost.

Second, add the dry cheese packet to 1/2 C of heavy cream. The milk and butter called for on the box instructions are omitted entirely. Just sub both milk and cream for 1/2 C heavy cream. Stir the powder and cream together after adding the macaroni to the boiling water and let them rest for the 5 minutes (or so) the noodles need to cook. This helps the sauce meld together before pouring it over the hot, drained noodles.

Third, drain your macaroni thoroughly, but don’t rinse! The Kraft box instructions got this right, and here’s why: natural food starch is released from the macaroni and provides additional stickiness to the finished product. This sticky starch coating is undesirable when serving spaghetti or prepping elbows noodles for pasta salad, since the pasta clumps together. Most Americans are so used to rinsing our noodles that Kraft gives specific instructions in bold typeface: “DO NOT RINSE.” Work that macaroni starch!

Fourth, return the drained noodles to your hot pot, per box directions. The residual heat of the pot will make quick work of any water drops left on your noodles by turning them into thin air. Your kitchen is now an evaporation station.

Fifth, scrape out your sauce mix onto your hot macaroni. It’s fairly solid because your heavy cream is cold, but it won’t be for long. The sauce melts into the macaroni and then it looks too runny. Give your tweaked Kraft Mac n Cheese a minute or two to “set up.” Like lasagna, this creamy, cheesy delight needs a few minutes away from the heat to reach it’s perfect serving consistency.

 

How do you spruce up your Kraft Mac n Cheese? My personal all-time favorite is ketchup. We’ve also enjoyed crumbled bacon, chopped green onions, and for the littles, pancake syrup.

However you personalize it, make your Kraft Mac n Cheese the best it can be. Enjoy!

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