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5 Mac And Cheese Upgrades

Jul/16/2023 / by Bindu Gopal Rao

Give your family’s favorite meal a makeover

A bowl of mac and cheese with chicken, egg and bread
Photo courtesy: Cafe Buddy’s Espresso

The good ol’ mac and cheese is almost effortless to cook, light on the pocket, and always a winning dinner. But if you’re bored of preparing the same recipe week after week, here are some ways to amp up your version of this classic.

Cheese Choice

“Toss up your regular mac and cheese with a combination of four of your favorite cheeses and add a chorizo or sausage to the mix for a punch of flavor,” says Roshni Sood, executive chef and curator, Poach Kolkata. “Top it with panko crumbs tossed in butter, garlic and parsley.” She also recommends tossing pureed spinach into your mac and cheese, or adding parmesan and baking with a thin layer of cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, and processed cheese.

Sood has yet another tip for cheese lovers—add blue cheese to your boiled macaroni with cooking cream and other cheeses, and top with blue cheese bits and parsley.  

Crunch It

Fried mac and cheese? Yes, please! Here’s how you do it. First freeze a tray of mac and cheese for 4-5 hours. Once frozen cut it into rectangles or squares and coat with a cornflour slurry and panko crumbs. Repeat the process three times and freeze for an hour. Then fry in hot oil and serve.

Sandip Datta, executive sous chef, Bakstage Gourmet Kolkata, recommends another way to add crunch. “You can layer the mac and cheese with bacon, add flavor with sage and chestnut, and top it with sourdough crumbs,” he says.

Kiddie Fixings

You can make the mac and cheese healthier for kids by adding sautéed vegetables like carrots, corn, or peas. Or you could mix in some protein. Smriti Singhania, founder of Eat Out At Home says, “Crisp up small cubes of paneer or chicken on a pan, add some seasonings and fresh herbs, and use these to top up your bowl of mac and cheese.”

Another kid-friendly alternative is to layer the dish with cooked kidney beans or baked beans, suggests Singhania. “Fill the bottom of a pot with beans, some ketchup, macaroni and cheese, and let it cook,” she explains.

Meat Matters

You can add a variety of meat as well, such as prosciutto parma ham. Datta offers another idea. “Add chia seeds, chicken, and chives, with crème fraîche on top and then bake your mac and cheese. You will get a nice smokey flavor,” he says.

While adding cooked chicken is a common add-on, Barun Bapari, chef de partie, Cafe Buddy’s Espresso, has an interesting spin. “We’ve added chunks of grilled chicken and poached egg to mac and cheese,” he says. So when you eat this dish, you will experience three different textures—from the cheese, chicken and egg.  

Top it Right

Change the flavor profile of your mac and cheese by topping with fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, rosemary, or finely chopped chives. You can also add some salsa to give it a zing. Or go desi with a makhani mac and cheese. Simply add makhani gravy on your mac and cheese.

Get creative, and add sauces and toppings that you have at hand in your pantry. Only your imagination is the limit, so let it run wild and you’re in for a magical mac and cheese meal!

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