What did foodie president Thomas Jefferson start? After discovering a cheesy, rich pasta dish in France. he brought it back in the early 1800s and introduced his dinner guests to a delicious new concoction loaded with rich cream, cheddar cheese and baked to a bubbly, crusty perfection. The latest from France, he definitely proclaimed, together with his other creations such as ice cream, french fried potatoes, fine wines and exotic fruits and vegetables, all whipped up at his estate kitchen by his French-trained chef (not to mention in the White House), and Colonial foodies dug in. For Southerners, homemade mac and cheese has always been a staple on holiday dinner tables.
No question, it’s come a long way, and a number of its newest versions are just plain outrageous. Seems each restaurant and chef wants to outdo the others, and while possibly some (possibly) delicious variations, the new combinations could qualify as just plain bizarre. Here is a list of current popular creations:
Mac and cheese bagels (really baked into the dough) from Einstein Bros.Bagels
Mac and cheese chunks, breaded and deep fried for a new experience in hors d’oeurves (Trader Joe’s are especially good)
Palm Bay Rat Removal Pizza topped with mac and cheese is showing up at several Big chains
Hamburgers topped or stuffed with mac and cheese
Mac and Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Meatball-stuffed sandwich sliders
Mexican foods (quesadillas, burritos and enchiladas) stuffed with M&C
Rich homemade baked M&C casserole with lobster (and a very hefty cost)
Mac and cheese topped with white truffles
Of course, driving up the cost and (sometimes) the flavor level, any cheese may be used, such as Gruyere (Martha Stewart’s favorite which will run you about $30/pound, but hey, it’s Martha Stewart) and blue cheese, which adds an interesting and fresh taste for this traditional dish, as opposed to traditional cheddar and Velveeta. Perhaps a chunk of butter and some sour cream to the calories up.
And at one L.A. restaurant, truffle oil and a splash of white wine is added for the bargain price of $95 per serving (you read that right). Yikes.
To put it differently, just about anything you can dream up, you can do with your basic mac and cheese, so get creative if the spirit moves you. However, for you purists, nothing beats the creamy goodness of macaroni, rich cheddar cheese sauce and buttery crumb topping baked to gooey perfection in the oven. It can be all grown up, but no doubt about it. Some things are better simply left alone.