Friday Fuck Ups: Not-So-Easy Mac


So I know you all have this idealized foodie image of yours truly that starts with me waking up each day and whipping up a perfect batch of eggs florentine with a side of thick-cut pork belly and a few slices of passion fruit. No? OK, maybe just an idealized version of myself. But believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I cooked way less and drank way more. That time was called college. Well, and a few years after college, to be honest.

Back in those days, my favorite-favorite hungover 11 a.m. breakfast was Easy Mac. Actually I always say Easy Mac but I should clarify that I was never pathetic enough to use the microwave kind; just the stovetop Kraft kind where you pour milk, butter and a scary orange cheese powder over macaroni. It’s disgusting. And amazing. There’s just something about fake cheese flavor that I can’t get enough of.

Moving on, a few Fridays back I awoke around nine to discover I was massively hungover after drinking something pathetic like four beers. WTF! Getting old sucks. I didn’t have much food around, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d had an extra batch of white truffle-hazelnut ravioli, because the only damn thing I wanted was easy mac…

Of course, I am now way too much of a food snob to allow myself to actually go out and buy some. Instead I figured that I have to be talented enough by now to make my own, slightly less disturbing version, right? I had some mini-shells on hand, so I went for it.

Following what I thought was gonna be a pretty simple cheesy, creamy sauce recipe, I melted some butter and a little bit of milk over low heat on a saucepan. After it simmered for a bit and got a little thick, I grated some mozzarella cheese in and stirred. Now I know this is not exactly how you make cream sauce — most obviously, I probably should have used cream. But I was going with what I had on hand and I figured it did not have to be perfect on this occasion.

Perfect it was not. As soon as I added the cheese, the “sauce” completely separated and I was left with a few globs of gluey cheese floating in a sea of milky piss-butter. It was gross.


This is what I ate. I was not a happy hungover 27-year-old. Where did I go wrong? Is there a way I could have saved this not-so-easy mac? God, I’m pained all over again just looking at this crap.

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  • Yvo April 3, 2009  

    Think you needed some flour or binder of some sort. I’ve made stovetop mac & cheese from scratch and it involved tempering a beaten egg into melted butter and something – it’s Alton Brown’s recipe. It was good, and it didn’t take long enough or was hard enough for me to say “f* this cooking thing, I’m going to eat dayglo cheese from now on” but I do still buy the Kraft boxes for the BF who would probably think I had brain damage or something if I told him to make it from scratch.
    Just eat the dayglo cheese, it tastes good 🙂

  • belmontmedina April 3, 2009  

    I agree with Yvo- you’re looking for something bechamel-y. Also, I’m not sure mozz was the best decision, cheese wise.

  • Ali April 3, 2009  

    I’ve always done a butter + flour mixture. Heat it, add milk or cream, stir till incorporated. Add cheese, stir, viola.

  • Ali April 3, 2009  

    I’ll also add that I’ve done this technique and used mozz cheese and it turned out great.

  • Shane April 3, 2009  

    “Idealized foodie image of yours truly?” I don’t think so – I’ve seen this guy recently put down 2 bags of Cheetos and a 30 pack of Pabst without blinking an eye. I was very impressed, and I’m quite a slob.

  • gansie April 3, 2009  

    you forgot garlic!

  • Maids April 3, 2009  

    I just made a cheese sauce for noodles the other day for the hardworking BF. it was super simple: cooked the noodles, cut two healthy slices of extra-sharp Cabot cheddar, a slice of cheshire cheese (may very favorite cheese in the whole wide world) and two scoops of cream cheese. I stirred those cheesey things into the still hot (from boiling them) noodles and added a bit of garlic to the sauce. it looked awesome and BF said it tasted divine.

  • Maids April 3, 2009  

    BTW I am so offended that you used the word piss in this post! children could be reading this! Clean it up BS!

  • Alex April 3, 2009  

    Next time, because there will be a next time, just mimic the box mac-n-cheese. Put the cheese, butter and milk over the hot pasta with a little cooking liquid left in there.

  • MonkeyBoy April 3, 2009  

    “30-pack of Pabst without blinking an eye” Sound like BS, Shane, and I have a plan for the next family get together in Central Park. Hope Tavern on the Green doesn’t mind sharing their bathroom.

  • Lizzy April 4, 2009  

    That looks bad. I agree with all above – go for the beschamel sauce stuff.

  • soiainsf April 9, 2009  

    Hi, I’ve been reading you guys off and on for about a week or two and enjoying myself very much. Here’s the version of easy mac I make for my kids: I pick a small pasta (pastina, stellette, acini di pepe…) and cook it a bit like rice, 2 cups chicken stock for 1 cup pasta, until the liquid is gone and the pasta tender, so it resembles risotto. Then I grate a bunch of parmesan in it, and add a few healthy squeezes of tomato paste (I buy it in a tube rather than a can) as well as a big pat of butter. Yum.

  • rebecca riot October 5, 2011  

    you need flour. that’s what binds the cheese sauce together. after the butter has melted on low heat add an equal amount of flour and whisk together, let it get sort of golden brown colored (but not more than this! you’d be getting into ettouffee territory), then slowly whisk in the milk or cream. milk WILL work for this, but it’s best to use whole milk due to the fat content. skim milk, not so much. heavy cream is the ideal option though. then, after that’s nice and thick, begin adding the cheese just a little at a time until it’s the consistency you desire.

    also, @Maids.. the name of this feature is ‘Friday FUCK-UP’.. and you’re upset that they used the word ‘piss’? god, i hope you were just trying to be funny..

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