Coast Cooking

Macaroni and cheese in the box can’t compare to the real deal


Special to the Sun Herald

A macaroni and cheese is a Southern delight.
A macaroni and cheese is a Southern delight.

I’m blogging about Southern classics this week. One of the points I am trying to make is that our Southern cooking traditions are just as rich and delicious as any cooking style, anywhere.

Sometimes we skimp on ingredients, and so get poorer results, but if you use the best, freshest ingredients and good technique, then you are bound for success.

How could focus on Southern food and not mention macaroni and cheese? Some people think Thomas Jefferson or one of his family members invented it, others think it is a dish from the U.K. But my first wife, an Italian, would never forgive me if I didn’t stand up for the idea that it is definitely Italian. How can you look anywhere else than the land of pasta and Parmigiano-Reggiano? What a perfect combination.

Universally, kids seem to like the macaroni and cheese that comes in the box, and for kids that is fine. If you have an adult palate, then you should use more sophisticated ingredients.  What does that mean? It means the best quality pasta you can find (that usually means imported Italian pasta), real cream, or whole milk, and a great melting cheese. Gruyere is the king of melting cheeses, but others will do, like a good white, artisan made cheddar, even a Spanish Manchego would be interesting.

Everyone needs a little macaroni and cheese in their life occasionally, so explore the best ingredients you can and make something delicious happen.