Help with lunchbox mac n cheese

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lenarenee

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Our little one is (shoot, she's 9 now and only half a head shorter than me!) is a picky eater and options for lunchbox items she'll eat are very limited. I'm trying to make a cheese sauce, or alter a store bought item, to make mac n cheese that will not be dry after sitting in a thermos for 3 hours.

I've found that using sour cream helps, but it changes the taste enough that she notices.

Anybody else have any ideas?
 

GingerL

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Just hazarding a guess - what about evaporated milk? I have a recipe for mac and cheese in an electric pressure cooker that uses it with creamy results.
 

lenarenee

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Just hazarding a guess - what about evaporated milk? I have a recipe for mac and cheese in an electric pressure cooker that uses it with creamy results.
That does sound like it would be a richer sauce- we'll see if that keeps better in a thermos.
 

Susie

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I never knew you could make mac and cheese without evaporated milk. I am, at this very moment, making mac and cheese, except the full size grown up version with broccoli, ham, and a bit of pepper jack.
 

BrewerGeorge

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The absolute, hands-down secret to cheese sauce is sodium citrate. (You may have around from making soap!) Rather than using the starch from a béchamel to hold the cheese in suspension - which mutes the flavor - the sodium citrate emulsifies the cheese into the creamiest stuff imaginable.

Beyond the kid version, the incredible thing about it is that it allows you to use the really good cheeses without diluting their flavor in white gravy. Want an upscale M&C with walnuts, apples, and Stilton? Sodium citrate will let you make it. It even works with hard cheeses which are not "good melters" like Parmigiano Reggiano.

I won't try to explain how it's done (though it's not hard). Just Google it. Trust me. :D

The one caution I would give with this method is that you can easily go overboard with it and make a sauce that is SO rich that it becomes almost difficult to eat as an entree sized portion. One of those things where the first bite is the best thing you've ever tasted, but by the fifth or sixth it's starting to feel cloying. Use a light hand with the amount of cheese.
 

IrishLass

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Wow- that's interesting, Brewer George! I will definitely have to look it up. Just be sure- you're talking sodium citrate as opposed to citric acid?


IrishLass :)
 

Arimara

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The absolute, hands-down secret to cheese sauce is sodium citrate. (You may have around from making soap!) Rather than using the starch from a béchamel to hold the cheese in suspension - which mutes the flavor - the sodium citrate emulsifies the cheese into the creamiest stuff imaginable.

Beyond the kid version, the incredible thing about it is that it allows you to use the really good cheeses without diluting their flavor in white gravy. Want an upscale M&C with walnuts, apples, and Stilton? Sodium citrate will let you make it. It even works with hard cheeses which are not "good melters" like Parmigiano Reggiano.

I won't try to explain how it's done (though it's not hard). Just Google it. Trust me. :D

The one caution I would give with this method is that you can easily go overboard with it and make a sauce that is SO rich that it becomes almost difficult to eat as an entree sized portion. One of those things where the first bite is the best thing you've ever tasted, but by the fifth or sixth it's starting to feel cloying. Use a light hand with the amount of cheese.
Really good to know but I'm not a big cheese head like my siblings. The only cheeses I won't turn down are cream cheese, ricotta, brie, and fresh mozzarella. I'd totally try it though.
 

BrewerGeorge

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Wow- that's interesting, Brewer George! I will definitely have to look it up. Just be sure- you're talking sodium citrate as opposed to citric acid?


IrishLass :)
Yep. Sodium citrate.

If you've tried to buy it on Amazon, you may have noticed that many of the suppliers will be molecular gastronomy places that sell other stuff like agar agar, calcium lactate, xanthan gum, etc.

This is the same methodology that Kraft originally used to create cheese singles (though he used potassium citrate, I believe.) and what gives us Velveeta now. While that may seem damning, the difference is using good cheese in the first place instead of whatever bollocks is in Velveeta.

It's really kind of amazing once you start playing with it. You can make a cheese for nachos that looks and flows just like the crap from the jar without all the artificial ingredients, and it will taste like the cheese you used - Oaxaca, asadero, whatever.

And for the OP, because these sauces lack that extra flour béchamel, they won't set like cold gravy when they sit around.
 

BrewerGeorge

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Really good to know but I'm not a big cheese head like my siblings. The only cheeses I won't turn down are cream cheese, ricotta, brie, and fresh mozzarella. I'd totally try it though.
In the first blush of experimenting with this method a year or so ago, I made a Mac&Cheese with mozzarella sauce, diced pepperoni, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Turned out pretty well, but it was one of those that was almost overly rich.
 

lenarenee

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The absolute, hands-down secret to cheese sauce is sodium citrate. (You may have around from making soap!) Rather than using the starch from a béchamel to hold the cheese in suspension - which mutes the flavor - the sodium citrate emulsifies the cheese into the creamiest stuff imaginable.

Beyond the kid version, the incredible thing about it is that it allows you to use the really good cheeses without diluting their flavor in white gravy. Want an upscale M&C with walnuts, apples, and Stilton? Sodium citrate will let you make it. It even works with hard cheeses which are not "good melters" like Parmigiano Reggiano.

I won't try to explain how it's done (though it's not hard). Just Google it. Trust me. :D

The one caution I would give with this method is that you can easily go overboard with it and make a sauce that is SO rich that it becomes almost difficult to eat as an entree sized portion. One of those things where the first bite is the best thing you've ever tasted, but by the fifth or sixth it's starting to feel cloying. Use a light hand with the amount of cheese.
Yes! I do have a large amount of sodium citrate in the house! I knew it was used to cheese sauces but just assumed it was a more "chef" thing.
I'll be experimenting this weekend!
 
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