Saturday, July 21, 2012
Frozen Mac and Cheese: Individual and Al Dente
I love the idea of making extra food and freezing it for those crazy days when eating mustard for dinner seems like a perfectly viable option. My only problem is that pasta dishes (a kid favourite) are soggy upon reheating. And we are pasta snobs at this house... in fact, even the kids prefer pasta (De Cecco if possible) that it is perfectly al dente and has been freshly tossed with sauce. Give them day old pasta from the fridge that has absorbed too much bechamel or bolognese and they'll turn their noses up at it.
You can always freeze just the sauce and cook the pasta when needed, but I wanted something to compete with the simplicity of KD in the microwave, all the while tasting like the best homemade mac and cheese. And here's my solution:
I froze really undercooked (2 minutes under the suggested cooking time i.e. a mere 3 minutes for the De Cecco elbow macaroni) and the cheese bechamel separately.
I was really generous with the amount of cheese sauce for each serving because the pasta would finish cooking during the reheating stage using some of the moisture from the bechamel.
These were frozen in my standard sized silicone muffin trays. I love these trays for freezing because the frozen portions pop out really easily by everting the muffin cups and it allows me to freeze stock, dashi, pesto, egg whites, etc. in amounts that are much more reasonable than the ridiculously small cubes you get from an ice cube tray. And now that I've found a new use for my trays, I think I may have to find a giant muffin-sized once because these little mac and cheeses were great for the kids but a little small for me :)
They reheated really well in the microwave. A few drops of water on the bottom of the dish/bowl to start the steaming process plus a microwave cover and 90 to 120 seconds later... just enough pasta to feed an impatient hungry toddler! Add a few breadcrumbs and grated parmesan and nuke a bit longer with the cover off to get a nice gratin top.
In fact, I'll probably freeze them with the parmesan and breadcrumbs as a top layer next time.
Fast, tasty and perfectly pre-portioned... but most importantly, al dente just like fresh-made.... mmm.