What? Molecular macaroni and cheese? Yet another macaroni and cheese recipe! Yes! If you like to experiment and spice up your weeknight dinners, this is a fun recipe to try. But it’s really delicious too! And you don’t need a roux! Yay that rhymes 🙂 What makes this mac and cheese recipe “molecular” is the use of a molecular or modernist technique of emulsifying sauces (cheese sauces in particular) with sodium citrate. It’s a salt that comes from citric acid. Citrate itself is an intermediate in the citric acid cycle and thus is involved in the metabolic processes of aerobic organisms. If you majored in science, like I did, you would know citrate intimately, and if you finished a masters in biochemistry like I did, you would know it even more intimately as a friendly metabolite. Add on a sodium ion via bicarbonate and you get sodium citrate, which is nothing to fear. At least I don’t. It’s in our bodies even if you don’t use techniques from modernist cuisine.
This mac & cheese is a different breed from the standard.
The intense shade of orange comes from pureed carrots. Which you don’t really taste if you didn’t know it was in there. Not only do I like it intensely cheesy, but I like it intensely orange. The carrots help get that certain shade of orange. Like a cheeto. “A certain shade of green” by Incubus was one of my favorite songs when I was in high school, by the way.
I got my sodium citrate online, through amazon.com. You can get smaller packages which aren’t too expensive. I guess you can get geeky and get a big container like I did.
You need a specific amount of sodium citrate or the sauce may taste too sour and get really thick. The salt emulsifies the sauce without the use of a roux. A bonus feature of using sodium citrate is that the oil in the cheese won’t separate from the sauce. So it’s ideal in making cheese sauces and fondue. The beauty is that you can use any cheese you want like Swiss, Gruyere, gouda, raw-milk cheeses, mozarella…you name it…and you’ll get velveeta-like cheese with any cheese you want and without all the processing steps!
I used a mix of raw-milk cheddar and sharp grass-fed cheddar.
Silky and thick cheese sauce.
While you get your macaroni pasta ready, make the sauce by mixing the carrot puree and liquid (water, broth, beer, wine, or a mix of whatever liquid you like) until it starts to boil, then add the sodium citrate and mix. Add the cheese in several additions, whisking in between (or use an immersion blender) and you’ll have a bad-ass cheese sauce.
The start of what can be an addictive. Mix in some other seasonings that you like and enjoy immediately!
I’m glad that I made a lot for lunches the next day.
Molecular Mac & Cheese with Carrot
adapted from Modernist Cuisine
- 135 grams (4.8 ounces) water, milk, broth, wine, beer (can be a mixture, but I used beer that is sitting in the fridge and no one drinks)
- 130 grams (about 2 medium) carrots, cut into cubes
- 11 grams sodium citrate
- 4 cups (285 grams) cheese – I like a mix of cheddar cheeses, but use what you like
- salt & pepper to taste
- pinch of smoked paprika
- dash of dijon mustard (or a pinch of dried yellow mustard)
- 2 cups dry macaroni (Ancient Harvest my favorite gluten-free brand)
- Using a blender, puree the carrots with the liquid until smooth. Place in a pot on medium heat and whisk in the sodium citrate. Bring to a simmer.
- Whisk in the cheese in multiple additions, blending until smooth after each addition. Turn the heat to the warm setting while waiting for pasta to cook.
- Prepare pasta as directed on package. Drain, but do not rinse the pasta.
- Stir in the warm cheese sauce, paprika, dijon mustard, and salt & pepper to taste. Serve now!
With a certain shade of orange, it’s a delectable mac & cheese that the Cheetos mascot Chester the Cheetah would find “dangerously cheesy.”
(image credit: sodahead.com)