Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Four ways to go from a Mac and Cheese novice to a pro – from street food’s Anna Mae

12/04/2022

Twisted: Unserious food tastes seriously good.

Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman

05m read

Article saved!Article saved!

You might think mac and cheese is one of those dishes we all know how to make: bung some cheese sauce onto your pasta and bob’s your uncle, right?

But oh, how wrong you’d be…

Who remembers the slabs of congealed pasta they were served in school as a teenager? Too often, aspiring home cooks knock up a vat of macaroni which tastes hauntingly similar to this.

mac n cheese pasta

Mac N Cheese done right (Credit: Instagram/ Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese)

You see, mac and cheese done right is the ultimate comfort food, and done wrong it’s a lumpy, flavourless disaster.

To ensure your mac game is unrivalled, we spoke to pasta pro, Anna Mae, who runs festival favourite, Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese – a stall which has dominated the street food game for over a decade.

Speaking exclusively with Twisted, she shared her four biggest tips of the trade (and trust us, you’re going to want to take a note of these, stat)…

anna mae mac n cheese

Anna Mae has shared her Mac N Cheese tips with Twisted (Credit: Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese)

When it comes to cheese, more is more

We don’t need to tell you that at Twisted, we’re big advocates for piling the cheese high – and this is a sentiment Anna Mae heartily supports.

“I think that you can never have too much cheese,” she says. “You can use any any kind of cheese, but the less processed and the higher the fat content in a cheese the better, because it makes it a better sauce”.

She adds: “You can balance it with anything and things like nuttier cheeses or Alpine cheeses are really delicious.

“Get really creative with it. If you’re a blue cheese lover just wallop some of that in, and play around with it. Be experimental…you might come across a really great combination”.

Cheese is just the beginning

You’ve got your cheese sauce, but that’s just the start of the fun.

“Don’t think of [your sauce] as just cheese,” Anna Mae adds. “You can pair it with loads of stuff.

“You can go for more of a fondue style, with alcohol in the base: put cider through the sauce, or stir a beer through, to make a kind of aromatic, hoppy flavour.”

Anna Mae also suggests meat is a good addition to boost your mac and cheese’s flavour.

“You can use bone marrow, sausage, and you can put a lobster through there, which is a popular one – the options are literally endless,” she adds.

“Baking with other ingredients changes up the flavour and can posh up your dish – kimchi, turnip top pesto, beef shin ragu, truffle and mushroom  – try a thick layer through the centre or over the top [of your pasta], with another layer of cheese that melts well”.

mac n cheese tips

Play around with meaty fillings (Credit: Instagram/ Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese)

Don’t make these Mac mistakes

“The biggest mistake I probably see is people using too much flour in the base of their mac and cheese,” says Anna Mae – this makes the whole thing heavy and clumpy.

“Then, there’s over baking. When we cook on the stall, we do it stovetop. For this, we don’t use a roux and that works really well.

“If you’re going to bake it then you’re going to need to use a roux so that it doesn’t dry out.

“You don’t want your mac and cheese to be like one of the ones you slice, with a dried up tomato on the top!”

Never bin the leftovers

mac and cheese

There’s so much you can do with leftover mac – brekky anyone? (Credit: Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese)

“You can turn mac and cheese into loads of stuff,” Anna Mae says. “You can obviously make mac and cheese balls, but think outside the box. You get mac and cheese balls everywhere, but do you get mac and cheese fries everywhere? No.

“Compress leftover classic mac and cheese into a fry shape, then you can cut them into strips bread them in a panko breadcrumb and deep fry them – we’ve got a recipe for these in our cookbook”.

Of course, these are just the beginning.

“You can use the mac and cheese fries recipe to make other shapes from your constructed mac loaf – a slice made into a mac n cheese patty sitting on top of a burger for instance, or some triangle mac browns for breakfast with eggs and bacon.”

Anne Mae also suggests knocking up a mac and cheese sandwich.

mac n cheese sandwich

Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese sandwich is ‘macology’ at its finest (Credit: Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese)

Of course, sandwich fillings are completely up to you, but she has a few favourites in her roster…

“We developed a kind of mac and cheese patty. You make this like the fries, [except] instead of slicing into chips, you slice into squares, and you can put loads of like mozzarella through it, to create something that’s like a burger,” she says.

“Make your burger patty and then deep fry this, and it’s really good.

“We also do a New York deli style sandwich with pastrami mac and cheese, with Swiss cheese mixed through it.”

Of course, all of these recipes depend on you actually having some mac and cheese left at the end of your meal.

“There are so many options, but whenever I suggest these recipes to people, they are always like ‘what do you mean leftover mac and cheese?!,” she laughs.

To get you started on your journey to being a mac and cheese whizz, find a recipe for Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese Fries below: 

Mac and cheese fries

Anna Mae’s Mac and cheese fries (Credit: Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese)

Anna Mae’s Mac N Cheese Fries

Ingredients: 

  • Around 500g of leftover Mac N Cheese (must have been refrigerated in a square container)
  • 100g finely grated parmesan
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 200g Panko breadcrumbs
  • 500ml vegetable oil
  • Salt

Method

  1. On a chopping board, carefully remove the mac from its container; it should look like a firm block.
  2. Slice the mac into 1cm thick slices then cut again into sticks around 1cm wide. You should end up with sticks around 1cm square and 7cm long.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a separate heavy bottomed ban to 190C and combine the Panko and the parmesan in a shallow dish. Take each of your mac sticks and roll in the beaten egg and then add in the Panko parmesan combo.
  4. When you have enough for a small batch, place gently in the oil until golden, remove and drain on kitchen roll.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and serve with your fave dipping sauce.

You can read our full interview with Anna Mae about her street food journey here, and check out her cook-book here, for tonnes more life changing tips. 

saved! saved!