Monday, May 17, 2010

Custard vs. Béchamel based Mac and Cheese

Before Saveur's latest issue, I had assumed there was only one type of macaroni and cheese... the béchamel kind... but what you see above is "Southern Mac and Cheese" which is, in fact, custard based... that is, the thickening agent that binds it all together is eggs instead of a roux.

To someone who has never even had (knowingly at least) a custard style mac and cheese, this dish was a bit of a revelation... while ultimately I still prefer a béchamel and a larger number of subtler cheeses, it was quite good and totally worth the (minimal) effort. It's easier to put together than a béchamel, and has a very distinctive taste... especially with the recipe's "secret ingredient" of grated onion. I just minced the onion instead of grating, because grating an onion seems like a giant mess... but it's possible that makes the onion a bit more obvious. I kind of liked that though. Anna ate so much of it that she got a tummy ache, so I guess that's a pretty strong endorsement?