Last night I tried a Taste of Home recipe for Bacon Macaroni and Cheese, which looked to me as if it might be EXACTLY the same as a “Mexican Mac & Cheese” I had at a restaurant once, a meal so transporting I remember it to this day. I also remember the price, which was NUTS—$17, at a place where most entrees are under $10. And I could TELL it had VELVEETA in it! One does not charge $17 plus tax and tip for a single serving of a food with Velveeta in it.
Anyway. I found this recipe. But as I was looking it over, I kept checking and double-checking one of the ingredients. Take a look:
SIX CUPS of uncooked elbow macaroni? SIX cups? That’s nearly 2 pounds of uncooked pasta. (Side note: the box of uncooked pasta says that there are “about 8” half-cup servings of dry pasta in a one-pound box. But even measuring very skimpily, so that the noodles did not quite come up to the edge of the measuring cup, I got three skimpy cups and not even a quarter-cup left over.)
I checked the reviews of the recipe, in case someone said it was WAYYYY too much pasta, or that it was meant to be six cups of COOKED pasta, but no. And six cups of cooked pasta seemed like not ENOUGH pasta. But it was all supposed to fit in a 9×13 pan, and two pounds of cooked pasta is a LARGE AMOUNT of pasta. I could not figure it out, and finally decided to do it CLOSE to the amount of noodles called for, and just see how it went: in the worst-case scenario, I could cook up another batch of the sauce and add it in.
So I measured the six cups skimpily, and then took a dry handful and put it back in the box. And when I added the cooked noodles to the sauce, I left out about a cup and a half of them: I was stirring the noodles in gradually and it was looking SO DRY. And EVEN SO, the mixture BARELY fit in the 9×13 baking dish: even with me packing it down with the spoon, it was ROUNDED UP like a little hill.
And the resulting dish was DEFINITELY over-noodled. It was still very good, and is certainly nearly the same dish I had once at a restaurant (or rather, will be when the over-noodling is corrected), but there was almost no sauce sensation at all: it was flavored noodles, nothing gooey or saucey.
Another clue is that the recipe claimed to make sixteen 3/4-cup servings (presumably intended as a side dish), or twelve cups total, but the seven of us all ate it as a main course for dinner, and I still had two full four-cup containers left over, PLUS half a plateful that had been eaten by a child with a cold so I didn’t save it. Seven people (including two adults and two teenaged boys) did not eat a total of 3.5 cups of pasta.
Well. I highly recommend the recipe, even though it is FAR more work and time and pans than I am usually willing to put into cooking. I think it would be VERY nice as a side dish with chicken; it seemed rich as a main course.
And I also recommend not messing around with the seasonings. My first thought was that I don’t really like onion so I’d skip the green onion and onion powder, and I didn’t think chili powder seemed like a good idea—but the first time I make a recipe I prefer to make it as-written and then tweak it later if needed, so I went ahead and put in the green onion etc. And it was delicious. It did not taste like chili; the onion was not too oniony. It’s spicy and cheesy and bacony. YUM. But next time I’m making it with four cups of uncooked pasta, and we’ll see if even THAT is too much.