Guys, I made homemade Velveeta.
Am I ok?
My husband loves (loves!) all melty processed cheese products. Apparently as a kid, his mom would melt Velveeta on raisin buns as a quick dinner, creating, to his 12-year-old brain, the height of gourmet cuisine. Peter loves the V melted into boxed mac and cheese, and on a grilled cheese, and, well, who am I kidding, we all love it melted with a can of chili tomatoes as a chip dip. Mmm. Rotel.
But when I take a look at the ingredient list: MILK, WATER, MILKFAT, WHEY, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, ALGINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, APOCAROTENAL (COLOR), ANNATTO (COLOR), ENZYMES, CHEESE CULTURE…..it is a turn off. Also, soft cheese shouldn’t be shelf stable.
So when I read about a method for making your own Velveeta, I knew that I was in luck. I love America’s Test Kitchen and I know them to be very protective of their recipes, so I’ll wait here while you go and read about this magically simple process.
Done? Seriously, one quick trip down the baking aisle to pick up gelatin and dry milk powder (I actually used the easy-to-find nonfat, rather than the suggested whole milk, with no ill effects) and you, too, can make a brick of Velveeta. It took me and the 7 year old under 15 minutes to get it in the fridge.
Is that not a thing of beauty? Sigh.
My homemade Velveeta has been sitting, tightly wrapped, in my cheese drawer for a couple of days, waiting to make its debut. I had a vision: ooey, gooey, mac and cheese. Without alginate.
My friends, this is not quick kid’s fare before the sitter arrives. This is real-deal, amaze-your-friends, bring-it-to-a-ski-weekend-and-generate-marriage-proposals mac and cheese. Keep it in mind. And one last thing: reasonable people can disagree on the relative merits of crumb topping on macaroni and cheese. My family finds it distracting, but if you love it, just sprinkle the top with buttered crumbs before you bake it.
1 pound macaroni or other short tube-ish pasta
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon hot sauce
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
8 ounces American cheese or Velveeta, homemade or otherwise obtained, cubed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well and return to the pot, off the heat.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and stir constantly until just beginning to brown, 2-3 minutes. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Once the milk has been incorporated, switch to a spoon and stir occasionally until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens. Reduce heat to simmer, and add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and hot sauce. Stir in the cheeses, one handful at a time, until all of the cheese has melted in and the sauce is smooth.
Spray a deep 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Pour all of the sauce over the cooked macaroni, and stir gently to coat. The mixture will be very soupy at this point. Pour into the prepared baking dish, place the baking dish on a cookie sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until bubbling and lightly browned in spots.