Chat Leftovers: Mac and cheese revival


Classic Macaroni and Cheese. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)
March 13, 2013

Midweek greetings. Ever think you’d be eating your lunch in a half-century-old city bus? Fojol Bros., who brought you some of the first creative street food in Washington, has hatched a plan to turn two old buses into mobile dining cars. You can read all about it here, in Tim Carman’s story.

Also today in Food, Martha Thomas explains how you can extend your slow-cooker repertoire to include seafood. And Bonnie S. Benwick reviews “Pati’s Mexican Table,” the new cookbook from hometown phenom Pati Jinich.

So there’s a lot to read, and also a lot to talk about today during our Free Range chat. That’s our weekly live visit with you, dear readers. You get a chance to ask questions, we get a chance to answer them, and after an hour, everybody signs off happy. See what I mean by being there at noon sharp.

We don’t get to every question, but we try. Here’s a leftover from a recent chat.

I took mac and cheese to work and reheated it in the microwave. It came out with big pools of oil in the bottom of the container. Is that just what happens to mac and cheese, or was it because it got too hot?

It just so happens that macaroni and cheese is a subject dear to my heart. You DO remember my Mac-and-Cheese-O-Matic chart from about a year ago, right? Right? Please say you do. Well, anyway, suffice it to say that I love the stuff.

I’ve never thought the microwave was the best vehicle for reheating it. Yes, your lunch probably got too hot in there, and the oil separated from the cheese and oozed into that unappetizing puddle.

Not only that, but your food was probably a little dry. When you stashed it in your refrigerator, the pasta continued to soak up moisture. That didn’t help the reheating process.

Given a choice, here’s how I would do it: Put some milk in a saucepan, maybe a half-cup or so, and heat it with a little butter. When the milk gets hot and steamy, add a couple cups of leftover mac and cheese and stir constantly until it incorporates the milk and is heated through. You could even add a little fresh cheese at the end. If you don’t let the mixture get too hot, you should be able to reconstitute it so that it’s close to its previous creamy goodness.

At work, you might not have a saucepan and a stove. Still, you can heat milk and butter in a microwave-safe container, then mix in the mac and cheese. Reheat gently (not on full power) and stir frequently. Do it right, and your oily puddles will be a thing of the past. Enjoy.

And try this baker’s dozen of mac and cheese faves from our Recipe Finder:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese (healthful version)

Baked Macaroni With Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Grandmother’s Macaroni and Cheese

Indian Macaroni and Cheese

Lobster Mac and Four Cheeses

Low-Fat Soul Baked Mac and Cheese

Mushroom and Spinach Macaroni and Cheese

Shrimp and Pesto Macaroni and Cheese

Tim’s Macaroni and Cheese


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