The mac and cheese off! The mac and cheese bowl! Mack and Cheez – the dynamic duo!
Whatever you call it, it’s the battle for the best macaroni and cheese.
Side note: We need to take more pictures. We need to take more pictures *before* the challenge has begun.
Game Night 04-08-15: Mak and Cheez: The Dynamic Duo
- Competition was the for the best macaroni and cheese.
- We also enjoyed six ingredient creamy tomato soup, grilled cheese roll ups, chocolate peanut butter banana bread, and peanut butter and jelly cookies (peanut butter cookie mix, thumbprinted, jelly center).
- We divided into two groups for games, which were Forbidden Island and Pandemic.
- Reigning Champion Tara Nudi with Perfect Mac and Cheese
- Challenger Erin Nudi (me) with Lobster Mac and Cheese
- Sarah Hodges
- Kristi LaMonica
- Brian Senesac
- Melissa Severson
- Presentation: 10%
- Freshness of Ingredients: 10%
- Pasta to Cheese Ratio: 10%
- Mouthfeel: 20%
- Overall Flavor: 50%
My macaroni and cheese:
Tara’s macaroni and cheese:
Final Score out of 200 Points:
- My macaroni and cheese: 179
- Tara’s macaroni and cheese: 184
I lost…by 5 points! Five points!!
The recipes used:
I found mine on SteamyKitchen.com.
I decided to do neither.
I knew I really had to bring out the big guns on this one. Why? Because Tara is the best cook I know. If I didn’t beat her here, it would start a chain of no one being able to beat Tara. Game Night Competitions would turn into Game Night, AKA The Tara Show.
And…I didn’t beat her.
I did a trial run the Saturday before for people who, incidentally, don’t like lobster, so I simply omitted that part for them (it goes on top so it’s easy to do so). I followed the recipe to a tee.
One thing I did struggle with – in the end, tossing the lobster chunks with the melted butter, panko breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese – the cheese and breadcrumbs clumped together instead of sticking to lobster. Something to look into.
Tara adapted her recipe from Martha Stewart.
Like me, she did a trial run beforehand; the first time, she followed it exactly, but didn’t like it. She made her own adjustments and it came out perfectly.
Tara’s changes: She used a mix of cheddar and Gruyere (so did I – but I used sharp cheddar and she used white cheddar), added 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, added 1/2 cup of Velveeta, swapped in ground mustard for the nutmeg, and used cavatappi pasta instead of elbows.
The judges indicated that while they liked the smoky flavor of mine a lot, they loved Tara’s creamy texture – she also got more points for a better pasta to cheese ratio.
When it came down to it, the more traditional recipe once again persevered – Tara’s creamy, gooey, comfort food dish what people are really looking for in a macaroni and cheese.
I’d also like to take note of the pasta shapes: I used elbow, and Tara used cavatappi. I’m not a fan of the latter, but many people feel the shape really holds the cheese in there. Tiny shell pasta is my go-to for macaroni and cheese, but I used elbow here because I chose not to deviate from the recipe in any way. Perhaps I should consider alternative shapes next time.
So, am I right about Tara’s reign as champion? Will the food competition turn into The Tara Show?
We’ll find out…
Up next Game Night: Reigning Champion Tara Nudi goes up against Challenger Brian Senesac for the best cake.
My first thought here was: crap. Tara’s cakes are beyond perfection.
However! Our challenger comes from a baking family and has his own solid cake-making background. It will be an interesting battle indeed!