3 Christmas Macaroni Miracles: Up Your Mac and Cheese
High-end versions of mac ’n’ cheese have been showing up on menus all over the country, sometimes incorporating gourmet ingredients like lobster meat. Southern barbecue joints haven’t let go of mac ’n’ cheese as a traditional side dish, either, but you probably won’t see them messing with this classic any time soon. Whether you’re looking to mix things up at home or try something new at a restaurant, here are my favorite ways to put a spin on mac ’n’ cheese.
Pictured: Caramelized Cheddar Mac and Cheese
Incorporating some heat into mac ’n’ cheese can be just what the heavy, rich creamy sauce needs. Try throwing in oven-roasted hot chiles, canned chipotles or even sliced fresh jalapeños. Want to get a bit more adventurous? Introduce creamy cauliflower puree to your cheese sauce and season with your favorite hot Indian curry paste. Even if you’re short on ingredients, check the fridge; a simple hot salsa, Texas Pete’s or Sriracha can do the trick.
Pictured: Ten-Minute Mac and Cheese
Salt, when used properly, will bring the flavors of a dish together. There are several salty ingredients that complement a creamy cheese sauce. Meat lovers are in luck: the perfect salty, crunchy companion to mac ’n’ cheese is of course, bacon. Crush up your favorite sea salt flavored kettle chips to throw on top, and bake the mac ’n’ cheese au gratin style. Other ingredients that add a salt and flavor boost are smoked salmon, capers, olives or feta cheese.
Pictured: Lobster Mac and Cheese
Sometimes, it’s okay to go over the top. Forget about balancing out the richness of mac ’n’ cheese: let’s take it to the next level of decadence. I’m talking about adding ingredients like butter-poached lobster, tender braised beef or sautéed chanterelle mushrooms and truffle oil. Sliced ripe avocado also amps up the creamy texture, and let’s not forget about topping it off with a soft-poached egg.