Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Waffling Leftovers: Mac and Cheese

Update Review, June 2017

Mac and cheese was one of the earlier dishes that I learned to waffle.  I've written about it before, always to quasi-mixed success.  You can read about my previous adventures first, if you wish.  It always seemed mac and cheese should waffle wonderfully, but, alas, so often I had problems with structural integrity, and found I needed to experiment with different crusting methods.
Mac and Cheese Transformation!
This time however, I had amazing success.  Waffle perfection.  One of my best wafflings to date!
The Original: Mushroom Mac and Cheese.
The original dish was fancy mac and cheese, made with little pasta shells, a slew of different cheeses (cheddar, pepper jack, parmesan), plenty of cream (manufacturing cream no less), and mushrooms.

It was insanely good mac and cheese, perfectly creamy and gooey inside, really fantastic flavor from the fancy cheeses, and perfectly crispy top.  I loved it, and saved plenty.
The Leftovers: Solid Chunk, Mushrooms Removed.
The next day, I ate some cold for lunch.  I was lazy.  I wasn't into the mushrooms, so I removed them.

The day after that, I pulled out what was left, and it had degraded a bit.  Kinda dried out, a solid mass.  I didn't want it cold.

I was feeling really lazy again, so I picked the waffle iron as my reheating method because it would be easier than traditional re-heating, which can be tricky with mac and cheese as it separates if you don't go low and slow, and add a bit more liquid.
Sizzling Away.
It had been a while since I tried waffling leftover mac and cheese, and, I seemingly forgot everything I had taught myself.  I'll be honest, I was feeling *really* lazy, so I didn't read my own notes, that say pretty clearly, "I definitely recommend crusting".

So I just threw in my unappealing lump of mac and cheese into the 350° waffle iron, and let it go.

I soon could hear sizzling sounds, so I peeked in, and was amazed that the lid lifted easily, and the mac looked like ... well, a waffle!  Woah, this was working!
Result: Waffled Mac & Cheese Perfection.
I let it go just a bit longer to crisp up, and extracted it with no problem.

The waffle mac held together perfectly, without any crusting.  I'm not sure why I always needed it before.

The outside was super crispy, and I loved the cheesy bits on the edges.  Inside was moist and creamy.

This was delicious, and I shared a bite with Ojan, who is sick of me waffling everything at this point, and he agreed it was better than his portion, which he reheated traditionally.  I wonder if there was something different about the ratio of cheese, cream, and pasta that made this more successful than other attempts?

Original Review, March 2016

Hopefully by now you know the deal.  I love to take leftovers and re-heat them in a non-traditional way: my waffle iron.  Hence, my "Waffling Leftovers" series was born, where each week I ask the question, "Will it waffle?", when referring to some kind of basic leftover.

After last week's quasi-success with the chorizo wrapped pesto pasta and my earlier success with leftover lasagna, it was time to take on another pasta dish, this one, a classic: mac and cheese.

Will it waffle?  Yes, but, like the pesto pasta, it takes a little finesse, requiring some kind of crusting, the right size chunk, and, the right temperature to start.  I don't have the photo evidence of my first few attempts, but, I assure you, they had no structural integrity and were quite the mess.  Here we have my subsequent attempts, and eventual, success.
Corn Flakes + Mac and Cheese.
  1. Leftover mac and cheese (thick slab, cold, and solid)
  2. Cornflakes (crushed)
You need to start with a thick, cold brick of leftover mac and cheese.  Too thin of a slice, and it falls apart.  Start with it warm, or even room temperature, and it falls apart.

So, do not do as pictured above!  Instead, take a huge slab of the most unappealing solid mass of mac and cheese, and go from there.  Believe me.  I tried many other ways, and, they all fail.
Crusted "patty".
  1. Crush cornflakes.
  2. Coat mac and cheese in crusted cornflakes.
  3. WAFFLE (aka, insert into waffle iron).
I tried a number of techniques, but I definitely recommend crusting.  I used crushed cornflakes, but I'm sure breadcrumbs would also work.  Without the crust, it didn't get quite as crispy on the outside, and broke apart easily.
Waffled Jumble.
This version started with the mac and cheese pictured above (you know, where I tell you not to do that?  This is why).  It wasn't thick enough, or chilled enough.

It got beautifully crispy on the outside, but had no structural integrity, and totally fell apart.  Tasty, but it was basically just like regular mac and cheese, with a few more crunchy bits than normal.
 Success! Leftover Mac and Cheese with Cornflake Crust Waffle.
This version used a thick solid mass.  It held together perfectly.  It stayed creamy and moist on the inside, crispy on the outside.  Totally delicious, and a complete success.

Both Ojan and I agreed that this is better than just reheating mac and cheese in any other way (toaster oven, microwave, stovetop, mixing in fresh milk or cheese, etc).

Next time, I think I'd also do a cheese sauce to drizzle over it, like a fondue-syrup!


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