HOMEMADE BROCCOLI SHELLS AND CHEESE
This week, I got a message from Nelson (a blogger on BB) to create mac and cheese at home, which was a great idea. I need mac and cheese in my diet at the moment. Naturally, I added some broccoli to balance the meal and ensure I got my greens. I ended with shells instead of macaroni, as that’s all I had in my pantry. If you don’t need broccoli shells and cheese, take out the broccoli, cook everything else according to instructions, and you’ll end up with excellent traditional cheese and shots.
THE CHEESE SAUCE METHOD
The process of making a cheese-based sauce might be a bit daunting initially, but you should give it a try. You’ll find it simple once you’ve got the hang of the process. The method of thickening the Roux is a bit like magic, very mysterious, but you have to get used to it. It will begin to reduce.
WHAT KIND OF CHEESE TO USE
Sharp cheddar gives the best flavor to your mac. However, it is also prone to “break” the easiest (turning into a lump inside the sauce), so I typically employ medium cheddar. Also, I added a touch of Parmesan (another strongly-flavored cheese) because of the sauce; I wanted it to be even cheese-y! I wouldn’t say I like the blandness of macaroni and cheese.
WHY ADD HOT SAUCE?
I add some hot sauce to my cheese and shells to enhance the flavor, but there isn’t much heat. The hot sauce is optional. Many people will add dry mustard, which similarly affects the taste. It adds the perfect little burst of flavor at the back. This cheese sauce recipe is about tasting and altering the flavor to suit your preferences. In the end, who’s complaining about tasting the cheese sauce? None of us.
Eight oz. pasta ($0.55)
1/2 lb. frozen broccoli florets* ($0.90)
One small onion, approximately 1/2 cup chopped ($0.18)
Three tablespoons butter ($0.33)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.03)
2.5 cups of milk ($0.65)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar ($1.89)
1 cup grated parmesan($0.24)
Salt and pepper according to your preference ($0.05)
In a large saucepan, bring boiling water to cook the pasta. After the water has been brought to a boil, add the pasta and let it cook until it is cooked. The pasta should be rinsed in a colander and put aside until it is ready for use.
While you wait, let the broccoli cool. Once it is thawed to a certain extent, chop the florets into smaller, bite-sized pieces and place the broccoli aside to soften while you cook the rest of the dish.
While the pasta cooks, make the sauce with cheese, finely chop the onion, and place it in a saucepan with butter. In a saucepan, cook the butter and onions on medium heat until the onions soften (about 2 to 3 minutes).
Add the flour mixture to the onion and butter. The butter and the flour will result in a paste or the Roux. Whisk the Roux in moderate heat for about 1-2 minutes, not letting it get too hot. This will cook the flour slightly and stops it from developing an excessively paste-like or flour taste.
Blend the milk until lumps remain. Add freshly chopped chili to the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil with frequent stirring (you may have to increase the heat a little). Once the sauce has reached an ideal temperature, the sauce will begin to get thicker. When it’s sufficient to cover the spoon’s back, it’s a perfect time to add the cheese.
Please switch off the stove and stir in the shredded cheddar, each handful at a time, until it completely melts. After that, add grated Parmesan. The cheese sauce should be flavorful, and then add salt and pepper and hot sauce according to your preference.
Add the rinsed pasta to its pot after the cheese sauce is cooked, according to your preference. Include the cut broccoli and then pour the cheese sauce over it. Mix until everything is well-integrated and coated in the beautiful cheese sauce. Serve hot.