Harold McGee used to be the only scientific food expert that most home cooks could name, but in the past decade, another mad scientist has entered the room: J. Kenji López-Alt, the “Food Lab” columnist on SeriousEats.com, who has published his nearly 1,000-page opus on the science of cooking.
”The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” (W. W. Norton & Company, $49.95) hit the New York Times bestseller list last fall, a nice feather in the cap for this MIT graduate who set aside his architecture degree to work in restaurant kitchens after college. He eventually landed at Cook’s Illustrated and then, in 2009, Serious Eats, where he continues to publish some of the most well-read posts on the Internet about seemingly simple subjects, such as how to boil an egg or fry a hamburger.
López-Alt will be in Austin for a class at Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., on Feb. 23 about the science behind breakfast favorites, such as poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, potato hash and breakfast sausage. Tickets cost $75 and are available at centralmarket.com.
Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac ‘N’ Cheese
If desired, top the mac with toasted bread crumbs just before serving. Use a good melting cheese or combination thereof, like American, cheddar, Jack, fontina, young Swiss, Gruyere, Muenster, young provolone and/or young Gouda, among others. To reheat the pasta, add a few tablespoons of milk to the pan and cook, stirring gently, over medium-low heat until hot.
— J. Kenji López-Alt
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. Frank’s RedHot or other hot sauce
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 lb. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. American cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks
Place the macaroni in a large saucepan and cover it with water by 2 inches. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let stand until the pasta is barely al dente, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the evaporated milk, eggs, hot sauce and mustard in a bowl until homogeneous. Toss the cheeses with the cornstarch in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the saucepan. Place over low heat, add the butter, and stir until melted. Add the milk mixture and cheese mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture is hot and creamy. Season to taste with salt and more hot sauce. Serve immediately, topping with toasted bread crumbs if desired. Serves 4 to 6.
— From “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” (W. W. Norton & Company, $49.95) by J. Kenji López-Alt