I cooked!! From scratch!! Hey – don’t be so shocked – I do that sometimes. Last year during The Food Network’s Next Food Network Star competition a contestant, Yvon Lemoine, used a recipe for one of my favorite dishes: Mac & Cheese. It sounded really tasty and it seemed fairly easy to make, so I tried it out. In my own, not-quite-following-the-complete-recipe kind of way.
Yvan’s Sweet Corn Mac & Cheese
Two 8-ounce cans creamed corn
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon onion powder, optional
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch ground nutmeg
Salt and ground black pepper
3 dashes hot sauce, optional, plus more for serving
2 cups elbow macaroni
8 ounces grated mild yellow Cheddar
12 ounces grated mozzarella
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup croutons
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Move one rack to the top of the oven.
In a saucepan, simmer the corn with the milk and onion powder, if using, for 5 minutes …
You can find the complete recipe here, with my attempts below the photo.
ATTEMPT # 1 – 8/9/12
- used an entire bag of elbow macaroni (approximately 2 cups. Note: I find elbow mac to be kind of the boring nerdy runt of the pasta family)
- vanilla almond milk (it was all I had in the house)
- 8 oz extra sharp cheddar (Mild cheddar is boring)
- 1 can creamed corn (I don’t like creamed veggies, so why use 2 cans?)
- no nutmeg (never buy it, what am I – The Pie maker?!)
- a little grated (from the jar) parmesan & romano (why not?)
- cheddar not grated, just slivered (no grater, just easier to knife it)
The dish was extremely cheesy and gooey and melty, which I liked. However I feel the mozzarella in the original recipe made it a little bland. I didn’t really taste the hot sauce or the onion powder.
ATTEMPT # 2 – 9/11/12
- entire bag pasta rotini pasta
- vanilla almond milk
- no nutmeg
- 2 cans creamed corn (as originally directed)
- 8 oz extra sharp cheddar + 8 oz pepper jack
- cheeses not grated, just slivered
- a lot more onion powder
- added garlic powder, italian seasoning, red pepper flakes
- crushed spicy nacho Doritos on top instead of croutons
- sprayed the casserole dish w/ nonstick butter flavored spray
I loved the crunch of the Doritos as I dug my serving spoon into the top of it. I was a little heavy-handed with the black pepper, hot sauce, and red chili pepper flakes, so the spicy Doritos just added fuel to the fire in my mouth. I had been thinking of using Rotel green chiles, but thank goodness I didn’t.
While the dish was definitely spicy there was still some level of blandness. I may have to just use 3 bricks of extra sharp cheddar. Also, I’m wondering if the continuing blandness is a product of using the creamed corn as a roux. One option might be to maybe just make a standard roux and add regular (non-creamed) corn. Ultimately I do like the addition of corn to mac & cheese. It adds a nice little bit of sweetness, and also a different texture to give you a break from all the creaminess in your mouth. (Get your mind out of the gutter, people)
ATTEMPT # 3 – 12/2/12
- no nutmeg or mozzarella or croutons
- finally added the rotel green chiles
- 2 bricks of cheddar, extra sharp
- used rotini pasta
It tasted quite good but it was a too creamy. It would have better if the dish was tighter (more set) and less loose. Maybe I didn’t drain the noodles enough and they were too wet. I still might use 3 blocks of sharp cheddar next time, more rotel, and non-creamed corn with a traditional flour-based roux.
OTHER VARIATION IDEAS
- actually use nutmeg
- cubed or shredded beef, pork or chicken
- ground beef, pork or chicken
- imitation crabmeat (I’ve used flake-style imitation crabmeat in a makeshift mac & cheese*, and cheap boxed mac & cheese and it is soooooo good!)
Overall I would definitely recommend this recipe for any lover of mac and cheese. And by all means – experiment with ingredients to get your own variations..
*Makeshift mac & cheese: I take cooked pasta, a little bit of milk, grated parmesan & romano, any other cheese I might have on hand and imitation crabmeat. Mix in one pot on stovetop until melty. Grab a fork. Nosh.