Mac n’ Cheese Mini-Series Part I: Toppin’s

22Apr09

macaroni-and-cheese-manDust off those capris, drag out those flip flops and take a razor to that 40-acre foreset you call your legs it’s springtime in the northwest!  For you vampires and and overcast lovin crusty-skinned girls who live for the days when the thick gray soupy sky drips onto our horizon. This time of year has inspired the fatties to pay tribute to a comfy classic meal well-suited for curling up on the sofa, balancing both an over-fed kitty and over-flowing meal in lap. We salute the almighty macaroni and cheese. Our series starts at the top, an often neglected supporting character, as we focus strictly on the crowning glory – the topping to your warm cheesy delight. A fan of the crunch, my goal was to obtain both that crackle texture along with the GBD (golden brown and delicious) colour that first feeds our eyes. These were all thoroughly tested, subjecting my taste buds to any and all suggestions. The sacrifices my body takes just for you.

Bacon: We would start here, of course. While some of you may consider this an essential internal ingredient, we believe this should never be included in the mix of the mac. Soft bacon is just wrong. Instead, it should be used as a topping to accompany other ingredients to retain the proper crispy bacon texture.

Breadcrumbs: Always a good basic, the preference is for fresh crumbs which really do toast up better. Just cut the crusts off a couple slices of Wonder white and whiz them in the food processor for the best texture. They should be doctored with melted butter or spray oil to obtain that sunny GBD tan.

French’s Fried Onions (like the kinds they have on green bean casserole): While this may sound good, it is imperative that they must be added at the near END of the cooking process. Otherwise, these quickly blacken up and create charcoal onion nuggets and trust me, it no good.

bugles-mac-n-cheeseNacho Cheese Bugles: Not only a tasty treat, but a mighty fine mac n cheese topping as well! Be sure to crunch them up real good, as the tiny cone ends make for a hearty bite.

Ritz Crackers: This buttery crunch offers both butter and crunch, but be careful adding more melted butter, (Paula), as it can get greasy.

Tim’s Cascade Sour Cream & Onion Chips: While it may work magic on tuna casserole, it plays funny games with your creamy cheeses and can overpower those costly ingredients. I’d only use them if you’re going for a whole ranch themed finished product.

funjun-mac-n-cheeseFunjuns: The overwhelming topping winner! These crispy onion ring snacks crumble well and create a crunchy breadcrumb texture, with a salty taste that goes well with thick creamy cheese goodness.

(And btw, I did notice that I could not bring myself to clean the stove at some point prior to this pic? I can only imagine the horror my mother is enduring by being subjected to this photo evidence of my inability to properly represent The Church of Martha Stewart. Specifically, I refer you to my woeful neglect and total disregard for following the Spring Cleaning Guideline Martha serves up for doodle-heads like me who need instructions on how to use a sponge. I’m guess I’m just tragically hopeless.)

That’s it for our section on toppings. By all means, if you have other ideas or suggestions, throw them in the comments and we’ll take into consideration. Next up, Mac n’ Cheese Mini Series Part II: The Pasta.

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