Mac and Cheese takedown taken-down

Mac and Cheese throwdown prize

a hastily written sign, and three boxes of 'good tastes' mac

Cooked, went, distributed, and conquered the Mac and Cheese takedown today (Nov. 15) at Great Scott, and here’s a one giant, self-congratulatory, spoiler about the conclusion: My Mac and Cheese-hurriedly-entitled, “Jenny’s Mac and Cheese: Asian invasion,” won 2nd place people’s choice!!!

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At the Great Scott: a sold out event

It was my first time ever entering a food competition (and my fourth time ever making legitimate Mac and Cheese, including the practice batch made yesterday) and aside from the prize of three boxes of Good tastes’ Four Cheese, Mediterranean, and Brie & Fig Mac & Cheese, I also gained a plump blister on my index finger from chopping onions all morning, the wicked pleasure of hearing my name announced with gusto and then followed by an explosive applause (I wish I could get a video of that to replay during moments of low-confidence,) and met some fantastic cooks in the Boston area– fierce, tingly delicious, and creative competition.

I thank my academy of people: Anna, for introducing me to the Thrillist mailing list where I discovered this chance; friends who were present last night at Larissa’s wine party, who were subjected to the delights of being my guinea pig control group for the test batch; Erin, for opening my cans when I was rushing around and freaking out a la Alice in Wonderland’s White Rabbit; Kristen, for driving me to Great Scott; and to all the people who courageously ate my Mac & Cheese and voted for it.

Of approximately 20 entrants, other great Mac and Cheese contenders included: lobster mac and cheese (to my left;) Mac and cheese of Doom with peppers, whole wheat pasta (to my right;)  truffle and thyme mac and cheese with sea salt sprinkled on top; Gorgonzola mac and cheese with crushed walnuts; bacon mac and cheese with homemade BBQ sauce (the boy had a clever t-shirt exclaiming, “Basically like God .. on a plate.. with bacon;”) and a judge’s choice first place winner, double-baked taters with chives, sour-cream, and bacon Mac and Cheese. Nom nom, that was delicious and appealed to my taste buds in a comforting, extremely satisfying way.

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The final product-- a pan-asian experiment

I’ll let you in on a dirty, behind the scenes secret: I hadn’t a clue how my Asian Invasion Mac and Cheese tasted when I served it– it was my first time making it with all the recipe edits and augmentations. I woke up late and ran out of time making it, so I covered it immediately out of the oven, and booked it to the venue. Then I stood there and served it to 200 people behind the hot, sweaty lines on an adrenaline high of having subsisted on nothing but Dunkin’ Donut coffee with a turbo shot, and a pint of Strongbow, semi-consciously hoping that no food or taste poisoning occurs. Victory tastes sweetest when least expected.

Making-of and recipe follows.

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lake of sauteed yummies/ pond of pasta/ mountain of grated cheese

Jenny’s Mac and Cheese: Asian Invasion in your mouth

The classic Macaroni and Cheese tweaked with four cheeses, and influence of Chinese and Thai flavors. 2nd place crowd favorite at the Boston Mac and Cheese Takedown 2009.

Serves: a ravenous army of 12/ more manageable portions of 24

Prepping and Cooking time: over an hour

I wish I had a sous chef to chop my onions for me, for my retinas had exploded and were streaming with tears. After some while, my roommates yelled, “WHO IS CHOPPING ALL THESE GODDAMN ONIONS?” as their eyes were assaulted in turn. I am grateful for them humoring the mac and cheese apocalypse and the residual chaos I unfurled in the kitchen. Also, I am holding casting calls for a professional cheese grater. Must be able to grate .85 lbs of semi-hard cheese in under 3 minutes.

Sautee in a pan:

  • 2 or 3 onions,
  • shiitake mushroom (10,)
  • 8 Chinese sausages,
  • Oyster sauce (3 drips,)
  • Soy sauce (a wee,)
  • Salt

Make sure all excess water has mostly evaporated.

Cook 1 lb. pasta (with hollow innards, where the sauce can penetrate) to al dente. Immediately drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

In a separate, large pot, combine:

  • 8 Tbs. melted butter, (1 stick)
  • 5 Tbs. all-purpose flour,

(about 1 minute)

Then incorporate liquids slowly:

  • 2 12-oz. cans evaporated milk,
  • 1 can coconut milk

Put in a paste consisting:

  • 1 Tbs. red curry paste,
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce,
  • About 6 sprigs of cilantro

Combine everything thoroughly and let the mixture thicken into a béchamel sauce. (about 4 minutes)

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the kitchen sink of ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg,
  • 2 tsp. ground mustard seed,
  • 2 tsp. table salt,
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper,
  • pinch of Rosemary,
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha sauce

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 degrees at this point.

Slowly include the cheese:

  • 14 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 oz. American cheese, (14 slices) — has stabilizing properties
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese,
  • 4 oz. Gruyere cheese

Add 1/2 cup water if too thick– only if necessary.

Add the sauteed onions, mushrooms, and sausages into the pot.

Add pasta into the mixture, then pour everything into a lightly greased baking pan. Lay crescent rolls on top.

Bake 15 min until the sides of the macaroni and cheese concoction are bubbling and the crescent rolls are golden.

Remove from oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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7 Responses to “Mac and Cheese takedown taken-down”

  1. EP 16. Nov, 2009 at 7:47 pm #

    I think you’re looking for something along the lines of:

    http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=204272822&listingid=45061407

    What recipes did you get your inspiration from/template? Did you come up with the whole recipe from scratch?

    Congrats again!

  2. Jenny Famewhore 17. Nov, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    I hear a food processor works quite well too.

    I got the mac and cheese measurements from a combination of Martha Stewart and a variety of Mac and Cheese recipes on the www; then substituted the types of cheeses for what was available, inserted the curry/meats/veggies– based on past Thai curry making/ Chinese-style cooking experiences, tweaked a few measurements here and there.

    The best part was how seamlessly the curry integrated into the original/pre-pimped mac and cheese, because all I had to do was switch out one can of evaporated milk for one can of coconut milk. The rest is history.

    Thank you!

  3. Anna 19. Nov, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    I got a shout-out! Sorry I couldn’t make it to the shindig, but we were out with Sasha on her only visit this year : ) : ( CONGRATS. Hahah can you believe what kinds of competitions you could win if you were making things you’d ever actually made before…?

  4. Jenny Famewhore 21. Nov, 2009 at 2:47 am #

    Anytime, lover.

    Like, a peanut butter and cheese sandwich contest. If only there were a market for that.

  5. theresidentartist 13. Dec, 2009 at 3:18 pm #

    Omigod. Looks soooo good. Any chance we’ll be seeing some of this goodness Christmas Eve? ;)

  6. Jenny Famewhore 13. Dec, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    I’m so glad you could come!

    It might be, it might be. Sadly, I don’t have a working oven in NY, but I’ll try to make do.

  7. theresidentartist 13. Dec, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Of course! I haven’t seen ANY of you guys in ages!

    Well, don’t feel obliged or anything, if it’s not possible. I’m sure there’ll be other great foodings to be had!

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