As a child, I LOVED Stouffer's macaroni and cheese: creamy and sharp, with brown crust. What's the problem? Well, it's kind of expensive, for one thing. Two, the portion is a bit small for a mac and cheese fiend like myself.
I spent many years trying to replicate my favorite mac and cheese. I discovered that the secret is using relatively little cheese, which keeps it creamy, and very sharp cheese, so you don't need a lot, but still get a sharp taste.
What is below is not the ultimate mac and cheese, but it's still very good. Since it's not baked, you sacrifice the crusty top, but, hey, you can have it every day in your dorm kitchen. You can do it in your rice cooker!
Recommended cheese: Cabot extra-sharp cheddar or Crackerbarrel extra-sharp cheddar.
By the way, I don't think I ate boxed mac and cheese till I was in my 20s. It is not in the same league with the real thing, though I recognize that, for some of you, it may evoke a childhood comfort food.
Rice cooker macaroni and cheese
¼ cup frozen chopped onions
2 cups macaroni
1 cup broth
1 cup water
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup cheese, preferably sharp cheddar
Red pepper flakes
Everyone needs comfort food and in that respect this recipe, inspired by Wolfgang Puck, delivers in spades.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to the rice cooker, switch to “cook” mode and let the oil heat up. Add ¼ cup frozen chopped onions and sauté, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups macaroni, 1 cup broth, and 1 cup water. You may need to add a little extra water; there should be enough to just barely cover the pasta. Put the top on the rice cooker and be sure it is on “cook” mode. If not, just flip the switch. When the machine switches to warm, test a piece of pasta to be sure it is soft enough for your liking. If not, add a little more water and switch to “cook” again. There’s no need to drain the pasta because any residual water will be loaded with starch and will help thicken the sauce. When the pasta is done, switch the rice cooker to warm and add ¾ cup milk (do NOT add the milk when the rice cooker is on “cook;” the milk will most likely curdle), 1 tablespoon butter, and ½ cup cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and formed a creamy sauce. Taste the sauce—you may need to add salt—and add red pepper flakes if you desire.