Living in the South has made me realize macaroni and cheese is practically a religion. It's gotta be baked and filled with lots of cheese, the more kinds the better, and served steaming hot. There are loads of recipes (online, in church cookbooks, passed down from generation to generation) and each of them are said to be the best. So we decided to put it to the test. Between Food Network's Alton Brown and Guy Fieri, who is the master of mac and cheese?
Alton Brown's Mac and Cheese
Alton Brown's recipe for baked mac and cheese is one of the most traditional macaroni and cheese recipes, calling for elbow macaroni and ground mustard. Living in Georgia, there's no doubt Alton created this recipe from the comfort food he grew up with. I've made this cheesy recipe a few times before and every time it hit the nail on the head when it came to side dishes, so I was very confident this recipe of Good Eats mac-n-cheese was going to take home the prize fairly easy. It's tagged as a "fan favorite" on the Food Network site, so you know it's a winner!
How to Make Alton Brown's Mac and Cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and boil a pot of water for the noodles. Add 1 pound elbow macaroni to the large pot and cook until al dente. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese sauce by melting 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan and whisking in flour and ground mustard. Stir in the paprika, milk, chopped yellow onion, and bay leaf and let simmer for about ten minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and temper the large egg into the mixture, making sure not to curdle it. Add sharp cheddar cheese into the mixture along with fresh black pepper and kosher salt to taste. Place in a casserole dish and top with the remaining cheese and panko crumbs
The Taste Test
Classic, cheesy, with a hint of kick from the mustard powder, Alton Brown's mac and cheese is the quintessential comfort food side.
Guy Fieri's Mac Daddy Mac n'Cheese
With 209 reviews on the Food Network site and a 5-Star rating, I knew I had to try out Fieri's take on macaroni and cheese. It's nontraditional and boasts 14 different ingredients, two of them being different kinds of cheeses. It's more time-consuming to make than Brown's as well.
How to Make Guy Fieri's Mac Daddy Mac n'Cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and roast garlic and shallots in an aluminum foil wrap until tender. Remove them from the foil and chop.
In a large pot of boiling water cook penne noodles until al dente.
Meanwhile, chop up some bacon and cook that in a skillet until crispy. Remove some of the bacon fat and saute the shallots and garlic for one minute. Add in the flour then heavy cream and fresh thyme and simmer until reduced by 1/3.
Once reduced, add pepper jack cheese and shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce and whisk until smooth. Combine the noodles and cheese sauce and place in a casserole dish. Top with panko and parsley and bake.
The Taste Test
One taste was all I needed to become utterly obsessed with this recipe. The light note of roasted garlic and shallots paired with the saltiness of the bacon and cheese. The added herbs added a fresh note.
Before tasting each dish I was sure Alton Brown was going to win, however, Guy Fieri's use of bacon and roasted shallots took this macaroni and cheese recipe over the top. Sorry Alton, It's Guy Fieri all the way.