Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese as Crunchy Potato Chip Topping Delivery System

Since everyone agrees that the best part of a macaroni and cheese is the crisp, crunchy topping, why not feature that as the star of the dish? That was the basic idea behind today's video recipe for crispy potato chip mac and cheese.

There are all sorts of "favorite" casserole toppings, but the one that seems to excite people the most is the potato chip crust. Maybe it's the extra crunch, or the cheesy flair, or that very few unpleasant memories include potato chips.
So, the concept here is simple. Make a batch of b├ęchamel (basic white sauce) using the recipe below. If you need to watch the technique, here is a video recipe for it, but use this post's measurements. To that add 12 ounces of really good cheese, and when it's melted, mix into cooked macaroni.

That would make a great meal as is, but when you add a big spoon of this impossibly crispy, cheesy, crunchy, buttery love…well, damn. Not only is this delicious, but it's a triumph of textural perfection. It's also a versatile recipe, as you can make the topping mixture and the white sauce ahead of time. I hope you give it a try, enjoy!

For the white sauce: (watch technique video here)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups cold milk
small pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or few springs of fresh
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, or to taste

Cheeses I used:
1/2 pound shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 pound shredded Gruyere cheese

For the potato chip topping:
1 tablespoon butter
1 bag (minus 6-7 chips) white cheddar kettle-style potato chips, crushed into medium-fine crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (real Parmesan cheese)
2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs

View the complete recipe


Jessica L said...

Now THIS is what I watch Food Wishes for! Thank you Chef John!

Frank Sugino said...

Instead of butter with the crushed chips, use a cut up strip of bacon. More flavor for the chips, plus you get crunchy bacon bits with your mac and cheese.

Frank Sugino said...

Instead of butter, slice up a strip of bacon into the crushed potato chips. The fat will give the chips better flavor, plus you get bacon bits on your mac and cheese.

Cheri Witmer said...

Oohhh, my mouth is so watering for this! Gotta make soon :) Thanks again Chef John

Food Junkie said...

Yummy. Mac'n cheese is my favourite comfort food. On a lazy night or one short of cheese to shred that topping would also nicely dress up a ready made mac'n cheese. Thanks chef!

Seth said...

Hey Chef John, I have a couple cheese questions!

Firstly, is there something I can substitute for gruyere? I live in a small town, and the gruyere is very expensive. (I live on a college student budget)

Secondly, there are wedges that say Parmesan, and wedges that say Parmigiano Reggiano. What's the difference?

grumbleghoul said...

ok.. Chef John, I went to the Bechamel sauce video. in that video you stated that there were 5 "mother" sauces of which this is one. You also said in the video that you would cover those in another post of some sort. What are the other 4, Where can I find them, and if the others are as awesome as this one for making the mac n cheese, why haven't I found this site sooner???

Chef John said...

here is mother sauce info. I've done several. read and do a search. enjoy!

Rita said...

tater chips? hmmm... interesting twist on one of my favorite comfort foods. a must try!

the difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano is that - the latter came from the producing towns of Parma, Reggio-Emilia (i forgot the other nearby towns) in Italy. the Parmigiano-Reggiano has better quality and taste - it's creamier and richer. if you got the really good parmegiano - it can be so smooth and sweet. melts in your mouth.

reason why they have it labeled as, Parmigiano-Reggiano, because it's like the DOC in bubblies. it cannot be called champange, unless it came from the town of Champagne, France. meaning, the label is protected.

you can substitute Emmentaler, Comte, Swiss. if you use the swiss cheese, it will still be good, but you will not get the same bite that the Gruyere have.

Jacqui said...

chef john, will you ever consider coming back to CCA to do a demo for us current students (even though i'm in the P&B program)? would love to meet you in person. :)

Chef John said...

yes, what Rita said! ;-)

Jacqui, probably not there, but I may do something independently for students.

DukeCitySnapShooter said...

Wow Chef John! Your photography and videography have hit a new high!

Excellent video (and the recipe looks good too.)

Erin Phang said...

I just tried this recipe today. The best part was the potato chips topping! However, I didn't use the cheese that Chef John used for the white sauce. Cuz I live in Asia and it's abit hard to find the cheese. Well, even if I find it, it will be so expensive :(. I just used normal white cheddar cheese. My sister said the sauce tasted abit bitter. Is that becuase of the cheese?

Btw, I liked the white sauce cuz it didn't taste flourish.
Thanks for making the recipe looks very simple, Chef John! It really encourages me to try it ;)

Next I'm gonna try the NY Cheese'crack'! *wink* ;D

Thanks again!

Aaron said...

Hi Erin Phang, I'm from Singapore also. How did you convert the measurement in metric terms? I've tried recipes from this site before but the proportion always seem a bit off. Google also gave me different value and there is also the complication that a cup of wet ing or water is different from a cup of dry ing. Thanks for any help and I hope I will be able to pull off this recipe.

frames for beds said...

Thanks for including a video in this post. That was really helpful. The recipe is definitely worth a try.

Anonymous said...

Might be a good idea, will go to try it!

Anna said...

Hi there! What are kettle-style potato chips? I only ever see Lays in my local grocery store. I'm not so sure Lays would taste nice although perhaps the kids would like it. Let me know, thank you.

Chef John said...

They are just thicker crispier chips. Any large grocery store will have several brands (one brand's name is Kettle Chips. Ask the manager.

anna said...

Thank you so much! I will ask about the chips.

The problem for me is that I currently live outside of the US so some of your ingredients are hard to find OR they are extremely expensive. Sometimes I will make your recipes without some ingredients or I try to make substitutes but this doesn't always work properly. Then I just get frustrated and lose my nerve to try new dishes! So, I guess I scare easily in the kitchen! :(

I've been looking for the Panko flakes you mentioned on another recipe. If I can mange to find these would they make a good substitute for the chips? Thanks again for your help, take care.

anna said...

Ooops, sorry, I just found another recipe of yours where you do use Panko to top macaroni! Answered my own question! :)

Rob said...

Oh man I used to do this all the time! Try using all-dressed chips for a bit of a bite or zesty/nacho/spicy-nacho Doritos for some seriously crunchy cheesy crust!

Blood88Seeker said...

Sir, you are a true food magician!!! Cooked this today, it was way better than my expectation. Like you said" there is no way to explain how good this is".

Mannaggia said...

Chef John, Another winner! For my nephew Conner's 7th birthday he requested his favorite food, mac & cheese. Served 9 people (8 of them adults) with 1.5 X your recipe & ended up with a pint of extra cheese sauce - ok, we'll use it up. Used Beechers flagship & Gruyere. Served with grilled Italian sausages and mixed green salad w/ simple vinaigrette. Everyone loved it. Potato chip topping a hit.

Suggestion: Please consider reordering posts, newest on top. Thanks.

Jennifer Lawrence said...

Thank you for the lovely potato chips recipe. I am surely gonna try it.

Lisa Storhaug said...

Great recipe! Super easy takes just as long as,(excuse me) the box and a million times better. My question is how long can this keep in the fridge and could you freeze it or will the sauce get funny? Thanks, lisa

Sally said...

Chef, I just wanted to say "thank you" for the link to Allrecipes that you gave at the bottom of your ingredient list. I wish you had that on all of your videos!