Inspired by an innovative macaroni and cheese recipe that calls for adding sodium citrate, an emulsifying salt, to cheese to keep it smooth when heated (instead of adding flour to make a béchamel), we based our sauce on American cheese, which contains a similar ingredient. Because American cheese has plenty of emulsifier but not a lot of flavor, we combined it with more-flavorful extra-sharp cheddar. A bit of mustard and cayenne pepper added piquancy. We cooked the macaroni in a smaller-than-usual amount of water (along with some milk), so we didn’t have to drain it; the liquid that was left after the elbows were hydrated was just enough to form the base of the sauce. Rather than bake the mac and cheese, we sprinkled crunchy, cheesy toasted panko bread crumbs on top. Our simplified mac and cheese recipe takes only about 20 minutes from start to finish.
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- 8 ounces Elbow Macaroni
- 4 ounces American Cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- Small pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 ounces Extra-Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (1 cup)
- 1/3 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Bring water and milk to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in macaroni and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, until macaroni is soft (slightly past al dente), 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add American cheese, mustard, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted, about 1 minute.
- Off heat, stir in cheddar until evenly distributed but not melted.
- Cover saucepan and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine panko, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in 8-inch nonstick skillet until panko is evenly moistened. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until evenly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Off heat, sprinkle Parmesan over panko mixture and stir to combine.
- Transfer panko mixture to small bowl.
- Stir macaroni until sauce is smooth (sauce may look loose but will thicken as it cools). Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer to warm serving dish and sprinkle panko mixture over top.
- Serve immediately.
- Barilla makes our favorite elbow macaroni. Because the macaroni is cooked in a measured amount of liquid, we don’t recommend using different shapes or sizes of pasta.
- Use a 4-ounce block of American cheese from the deli counter rather than presliced cheese.
Every holiday season, you wait with anticipation when the bubbling, pan of scalloped potatoes is put on the table, salivating at the thought of those creamy, cheesy potatoes to come. You giddily lift a forkful to your mouth and take a bite — only to realize with utter disappointment that the potatoes are still tough. Unfortunately, that’s a common mishap that’s befallen almost everyone who’s made that beloved dish at one time or another. Now, comes Sous Vide to the rescue. Never again will your scalloped potatoes be anything but perfectly tender, and cooked through and through. Cooking the slices of potatoes in a vacuum-sealed bag in a precision cooker also results in a more pronounced earthy, potato flavor. As much as we love all that cream and cheese, we also want to taste the actual potato, right? And if you vacuum-seal the bag with a few of the leftover potato peels inside — a trick I learned from a chef — you’ll end up with an even deeper tuber flavor. Just remove the peels before completing the dish. Best yet? Because the potatoes are already cooked before you assemble the dish and put it into the oven to bake, you need far less cream. I’ve made other scalloped potato recipes that use as much as 3 1/2 cups of heavy cream. My sous vide version? It uses just 1 cup. If that’s not an excuse to indulge in dessert afterward, I don’t know what is.
- 4 pounds Russet potatoes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for the pan
- 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Set the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 185ºF (85ºC).
- Peel the potatoes, reserving a few of the peels. Cut potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices.
- Season potatoes with salt. Divide evenly between two large zipper lock or vacuum seal bags. Place a few potato peels in each bag and seal using the water immersion technique or a vacuum sealer on the dry setting.
- Place the bags in the water bath and set the timer for 1 hour.
- About 10 minutes before the potatoes are finished, heat the oven to 400ºF.Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
- When the timer goes off, remove the bags from the water bath. Remove the potato peels from the bags.
- Arrange 1/3 of the potato slices on the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese on top.
- Top with a little fresh thyme, a light grating of nutmeg, and some ground pepper.
- Repeat two more times so that you end up with three layers of potatoes. Pour heavy cream in and around the potatoes.
- Bake until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the top is golden brown, about 25 minutes.
- Let potatoes rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Pennies from Heaven are sweet, orange-infused, glazed carrots, studded with apricots and dusted with a pinch of cinnamon sugar. They get their name from their “divine” flavor; it’s a somewhat hokey descriptor common in Junior League and community cookbooks, but the carrots themselves are hard to beat. Prepared in the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker, they make an easy side dish for just about any occasion.
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 1/4 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more for serving, if desired
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Set the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 183ºF (83ºC).
- Combine all ingredients in a large zipper lock bag. Seal the bag using the water immersion technique.
- Place the bag in the water bath and set the timer for 3 hours. You may need to weigh down the bag to keep it submerged.
- When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath.
- Transfer the carrots and their cooking liquid to a bowl. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice.
Bacon Green Bean Bundles. Tender crisp green beans wrapped in bacon and brushed with a simple brown sugar glaze. These are easy enough for a weeknight meal and pretty enough to impress your guests alongside a steak dinner!
- Green beans (about 1 1/2 lbs) 6-8 beans per bundle
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 slices bacon
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook bacon on the stovetop until slightly cooked (You don’t want it crispy).
- Reserve any drippings.
- Trim and wash green beans. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add baking soda.
- Add green beans and cook 3 minutes until tender crisp. Remove from boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.
- Dab beans dry and toss with reserved bacon drippings (about 2 teaspoons), garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste.
- Cut each slice of bacon in half and wrap around about 6-8 green beans, secure with a toothpick and place on a parchment lined pan.
- Combine brown sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and lightly brush over each bundle.
- Roast 20-22 minutes or until bacon is crisp and beans are lightly roasted.
Adding a little pinch of baking soda to the boiling water keeps the beans a nice bright green rather than that drab boiled green color.
It’s always difficult to decide whether to get onion rings or fries (get a combo if they’ll let you!). Proper beer-battered onion rings, with a substantial crisp crust covering a sweet, tender, thick ring of onion, are one of life’s three greatest pleasures (and the only one that can be enjoyed legally, incidentally), but how often do you get perfect rings? This recipe delivers.
Why It Works
- Freezing the onions breaks down their cell structure and makes reomoving the inner membrane of each ring simple. This ensures that the rings are tender and the onion does not pull out of the batter as you bite.
- A mixture of flour and cornstarch mixed with vodka and beer limits gluten formation, making for a crisper crust.
- 2 large onions, cut into 1⁄2-inch rounds
- 2 quarts peanut oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 cup light-flavored beer (such as PBR or Budweiser), ice-cold
- 1/4 cup 80-proof vodka
- Kosher Salt
- Separate the onion rounds into individual rings. Place in a gallon-sized zipper-lock freezer bag and put them in the freezer until completely frozen, at least 1 hour (they can stay in the freezer for up to 1 month).
- When ready to fry, remove the onion rings from the freezer bag, transfer to a bowl, and thaw under tepid running water.
- Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel or several layers of paper towels and dry the rings thoroughly. Carefully peel off the inner papery membrane from each ring and discard (the rings will be very floppy). Set aside.
- Preheat the oil to 375°F in a large wok or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and paprika in a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Combine the beer and vodka in a small bowl.
- Slowly add the beer mixture to the flour mixture, whisking constantly until the batter has texture of thick paint (you may not need all of the beer). The batter should leave a trail if you drip it back into the bowl off the whisk. Do not overmix; a few small lumps are OK.
- Dip one onion ring in the batter, making sure that all surfaces are coated, lift it out, letting the excess batter drip off, and add it to the hot oil by slowly lowering it in with your fingers until just one side is sticking out, then dropping it in.
- Repeat until half of the rings are in the oil. Fry, flipping the rings halfway through cooking, until they are deep golden brown, about 4 minutes.
- Transfer the rings to a large mixing bowl lined with paper towels and toss while sprinkling salt over them.
- The fried rings can be placed on a rack on a rimmed baking sheet and kept hot in a 200°F oven while you fry the remaining rings.
- Serve the rings immediately.