Itís hard to improve upon something that seems so perfect. That challenge can be classified as an "If itís not broken, donít fix it" situation. But with the availability of hundreds of exotic cheeses and almost boundless pasta possibilities, experimenting with these two ingredients can produce new taste sensations that can rock your culinary world.
The most commonly used cheeses in this traditional dish are cheddar and American, which is a processed version of cheddar. Many cooks, in order to save money and achieve a very creamy consistency, dilute the dish by adding a white sauce made from flour, milk and a hint of grated cheese. Experts insist that in order to produce the best product, a cook should use generous amounts of cheese and not settle for a gooey slop of cheesy sauce.
Almost any type can be used. Itís just a matter of personal preference. Some of the best recipes call for 2, 3, 4 or more varieties of cheese. Each one brings something special to the mix and many, when combined, produce a uniquely tantalizing texture and taste.
Some enthusiasts have actually written up formulas for creating the ideal blend. For a recipe that requires a pound of cheese, the following is suggested - 8 oz. cheddar, 2 oz. Swiss Gruyere, 2 oz. Italian fontina, 2 oz. parmesan and 2 oz. Colby.
For a change of pace, try some Kashkaval, a cheese made from sheepís milk thatís popular in Bulgaria and throughout the Balkans. It has good texture and adds a slightly nutty and tangy flavor to a mac mix.
Since the elbow-shaped pasta is ideal for this dish - its hollow interior provides a great hiding place for the melted cheese - substituting anything flat or solid would be a crime. But there are variations on the macaroni theme that would work. Whole wheat or enriched macaroni, penne rigate or ziti rigati are healthy alternatives for anyone looking for a more wholesome option.
To reinvent your ho-hum recipe, adding some zesty seasoning like a pinch of cayenne pepper or dry mustard will definitely kick up the taste a notch or two. Then top off the dish with a mixture of bread crumbs or cubes and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, and get ready to enjoy!