I grew up with stove top mac and cheese. Luckily my mother often made her own from scratch, but I also had the commercial boxed mac and cheese as well. Personally I’ve always prefered stove top to baked. I know, it is controversial. There is something to that velvety sauce and soft texture. It is simple and concise.
However, as I grew up, the idea of making it from scratch seemed more and more improbable. So I leaned toward the box. Now I am not saying that something is bad if it is in a box but powdered things often don’t feel super healthy in the food realm. Especially if all you are adding to them is butter and hot sauce and maybe tuna from a can. Wait. What?
Yes. I would like to take a moment to address something that we call “Shame Food.” What is Shame Food? Shame Food is food that you only feel comfortable eating in private. Far from any witnesses. My big Shame Food experience was when I was doing social work. I would work all day in a pretty intense environment and then commute home and my wife worked another 5-6 hours. So I would get home, eat something, and then take a nap. That thing became my Shame Food. It was inspired by a natural food company’s spicy mac and cheese. (It has since been discontinued.) I would make mac and cheese and add a lot of cheap hot sauce (this was before we had a sauce business) and a can of tuna. I would not even plate it. I would eat the whole thing out of the pot and then take a nap. I mean the nap wasn’t a choice. That box of noodles is meant to feed a family of four. Plus the amount of hot sauce I added meant I wasn’t really enjoying the meal as much as surviving it. I had to recoup.
This recipe isn’t that dish. It is tied to that spicy boxed macaroni and cheese, that my wife introduced me to, and we would eat it together at a time that we didn’t eat much. Also the roots are a stove top mac and cheese. The kind where the only powder involved it mustard powder and the spice comes from a complex sauce with a bright balsamic flavor and a nutty essence that pairs well with the gruyere and trust me if you finish it with toasted sesame, you will not regret it. Please enjoy and feel free to share with us your Shame Food.
12 ounces dried noodle (We chose the classic elbow macaroni)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups almond milk or whole milk
1/4 cup Hatch Sesame Balsamic Marshall’s Haute Sauce
3 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 ounces grated gruyere
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar
2 ounces mascarpone
1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoons Mexican Oregano
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add pasta and cook until al dente.
Pour the pasta into a strainer and place the empty pot back on the stove.
Turn heat to medium and add the butter.
Once the butter has melted, stir in the flour and use a whisk continue for a minute.
Slowly add the milk and cream while whisking to combine.
Add the mustard powder and stir.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add the mascarpone. Continue to whisk.
Begin adding the cheese a handful at a time while whisking to combine.
Add the Hatch Sesame Balsamic Sauce.
Return the pasta to the sauce pan and stir to coat.
If the sauce seems a little loose then continue to stir the pasta occasionally on low heat.
Serve in bowls topped with toasted sesame seeds and Mexican oregano.