So I was on Martha Stewart radio one morning last week and by my own assessment it was a little bit of a disaster. They sent me a list of questions to be prepared for that seemed to cover some pretty detailed aspects of our melting cheese chapter. Terrified of sounding like a dummy I spent a fair amount of time memorizing my own material. I ended up getting overly technical answering questions and losing my audience in the process. I caught myself pretty early on and tried to salvage the end of the show but I'm not sure they understood my message. What it all boils down to when melting cheese is that low and slow is the way to go. Shredding works better than dicing because you end up with pieces of uniform size and shape that melt quickly and stirring constantly is imperative.
Our cheese melting chapter is chock full of information. We discuss the difference between melt and stretch, types of cheeses, why they do or don't melt and what actually happens when your cheese is melting. In a perfect world, one you can create in your home kitchen, you can make a creamy, beautiful macaroni and cheese with a few simple ingredients. Take your al dente pasta, remembering that it will cook further as you melt cheese onto it, drain it and return it to the cooking pot, being sure to leave a few tablespoons of the cooking water in the in the bottom, and set it over low heat. Add a generous knob of butter and stir to coat the pasta. Taste your noodles and add some salt if needed. Add the cheese one handful at a time, stirring each addition until it fully melts and before you know it you will have a perfectly creamy and stringy macaroni and cheese. Remove it from the heat as you add the last handful of cheese and once it melts, serve immediately.
Tonight we made ours with fusilli and the remnants of our cheese plate. There was gruyere, comte and Boucheron. Any combination will work as long as the cheeses actually melt. The texture will change depending on what cheeses you use but if you follow this technique the sauce will never break and the mixture will always be creamy and smooth. You can even reheat it by breaking it up and putting it into a pot with a few tablespoons of cold water and gently stirring it over medium low heat. If done properly it will never become greasy regardless of the type of cheese you use.
PS: After you've made this mac and cheese you will have a cheese coated pot. Fill it with cold water and let it sit while you enjoy your meal. Once the cheese has solidified you will easily be able to clean it off with a sponge (not a scrubby) thereby alleviating what is usually the most onerous step in the entire process.