What did foodie president Thomas Jefferson start? After finding a cheesy, rich pasta dish in France. he brought it back in the early 1800s and introduced his dinner guests to a delicious new concoction loaded with rich cream, cheddar cheese and baked to a bubbly, crusty perfection. The latest from France, he undoubtedly proclaimed, together with his other creations including ice cream, french fried potatoes, fine wines and exotic produce, all whipped up in his estate kitchen with his French-trained chef (not to mention at the White House), and Colonial foodies dug in. For Southerners, homemade mac and cheese casserole has always been a staple on holiday dinner tables.
No question, it has come a long way, and a number of its latest versions are just plain outrageous. Seems each restaurant and chef wants to outdo others, and while perhaps some (possibly ) delicious variations, the new combinations could qualify as just plain bizarre. Here’s a list of current popular creations:
Mac and cheese bagels (really baked into the dough) from Einstein Bros.Bagels
Mac and cheese chunks, breaded and deep fried for a new experience in hors d’oeurves (Trader Joe’s are especially good)
Pizza topped with mac and cheese is showing up at several Big chains
Hamburgers topped or packed with mac and cheese
Meatball-stuffed bats removal sliders
Hot Dogs topped off with M&C (hold the ketchup)
Rich homemade baked M&C casserole with lobster (and a very hefty price)
Of course, driving up the cost and (occasionally ) the flavor level, any cheese can be used, including Gruyere (Martha Stewart’s favorite which will run you around $30/pound, but hey, it’s Martha Stewart) and blue cheese, which adds an interesting and fresh taste for this classic dish, rather than traditional cheddar and Velveeta. Perhaps a chunk of butter and some sour cream to up the calories.
And at one L.A. restaurant, truffle oil and a splash of white wine is added to the bargain price of $95 per serving (you read that right). Yikes.
It can be all grown up, but no doubt about it. Some things are better just left alone.