New Taste Market Place! Up Close and Personal

April 1, 2011

I’ve seen a lot of press lately in the blogosphere about my mac-n-cheese from sites like Yelp, MissionMisson and Chow. In a past blog, I submitted a recipe on how to make mac-n-cheese for the home cook. Comfort food can be luxurious. The results can exceed the expectations of your local diner fare and if you have the right ingredients and to do it with love, the outcome can be a hit with not only your family and friends but with your customers! I’ve been selling this dish at The New Taste Market Place at St.Gregory’s in Potrero Hill and it was a huge hit last month. The market attracts about 500 hundred visitors and is great for families and features awesome home and professional chefs, brewers(hi Jesse!) and food artisans. You would be missing something great if you did not attend this market which is held every month.

I’ve had good mac-n-cheese. I’ve had bad mac-n-cheese. It’s the rage now but I make this great pub dish a little different from most cooks do. I incorporate beer with the sauce. I am participating in another great New Taste Market Place event Saturday April 2nd and I decided to document the steps in creating this great dish that was a hit at the last market. As a bonus, I also documented the process on how I make my chocolate pop rock bars! I’m so excited. Hope to see you at the New Taste Market Place. St.Gregory’s Episcopal Church, 500 De Haro San Francisco CA 4/2/11 4 pm to 9 pm

The process I am sharing is for a market that would sell about 80 orders of mac-n-cheese. If you follow the recipe that I previously posted with these pictures of the process, you should be able to create a great mac-n-cheese dish for your friends and family. Don’t forget the beer!

The first step is to choose the beer for your cheese sauce. I prefer a weissbeir like Franziskaner Weissbeir. It has a great floral flavor with hints of banana that really makes this dish stand out from other mac-n-cheese dishes.

First, I start out with a crazy kitchen. Yes, my crazy kitchen but it works for me!

The next step is a 5 gallon stock pot. Stainless steel is the only choice for making sauces. If you use aluminum, you risk leaching aluminum into your sauce giving a metallic flavor. I was able to get an inexpensive pot at Economy Restaurant Supply in San Francisco.

The next step is pouring all three bottles into the pot. I don’t cook off the beer. I prefer to let it incorporate itself into the sauce.

I then pour 4-1/2 gallons of 40% milk fat heavy cream into the pot. Do not use anything less in fat content or your sauce will never thicken into that silky consistency that makes a great mac-n-cheese sauce.

The next step is to thicken the sauce. I create a roux. It’s equal parts butter and flour. You melt the butter and fold in flour and stir on low heat. The tell-tale sign of a roux finishing is that it smell like popcorn. Yes, popcorn. Here are the steps. Melt butter, add flour and stir on low heat until it start bubbling. If you do not continue to stir it will burn.

The next step is to heat up the cream. I like using beer in this dish not only for the flavor but also for the fact that alcohol stabilizes the cream and helps it from scorching.

I then add small amounts of the finished roux to the hot cream. If your cream is not at almost boiling level, your sauce will not thicken. When you start to see the edges bubble, slowly add small amounts of roux and whisk the cream until you achieve the desired thickness.

Next is the cheese. In this dish, I use three types of cheese. Tillamook cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack. This makes the flavors luxurious and gives a nice sharpness to the sauce.

The result is a very nice sauce. Continue to whisk so you can ensure there are no lumps left over from the roux.

I use simple elbow macaroni which is perfect for this dish.

End result.

The garnish I use is a Parmesan and toasted bread crumb mixture. I toast the panko bread crumbs on the stove in a large saute skillet. You can purchase these bread crumbs at Whole Foods. Here is the process on how to do this. Place the bread crumbs in a skillet and toss every few seconds on a high burner until the bread crumbs are browned. Transfer to a sheet tray to let cool. When cool, fold in Parmesan and then transfer into deli-cups which can be purchased at Cash-n-Carry.

The wine is for the chef!

I sell chocolate pop rock bars at the market. We tried a similar bar at Molly Stones and I thought our product would be better. We start by tempering chocolate. You place a stainless steel bowl on a pot of simmering water. I place 2 cups of E.Guittard 61% chocolate in the bowl. I reserve about 1 cup of the chocolate to cool it down.

You will need a chocolate thermometer. The target temperature for your melted chocolate is 116-118 degrees. If you reach 120 or higher, your chocolate will be ruined and you will have to start over. You will also need a high temp rubber spatula that is available at Economy Restaurant Supply.

You will also need an ice bath to cool your chocolate to a target temperature of 80 degrees. I use chill blocks and water but simple ice and water will suffice.

When the water comes to a boil, turn off and start melting your chocolate. Make sure you keep stirring and scraping with your spatula so it does not scorch.

Look for that 116 degree temperature on your thermo and when achieved, add the remaining chocolate to cool down and pull off heat.

When your chocolate pieces have melted, transfer your bowl to the ice water and bring the temperature to the 80 degree mark. You are giving stability to the sugar in the chocolate so it can coat and have sheen as well as snap when cooled.

Once your chocolate has reached 80 degrees, put the bowl back on the hot water and bring the chocolate back to 91 degrees for dark chocolate. At this point is when I fold the chocolate pop rocks into the chocolate. Any hotter, it will actually activate the pop rocks thus ruining your result.

I use a 2 oz ice cream scoop to transfer the mixture to chocolate molds.

End result. Great bars ready to wrap!

One Response to “New Taste Market Place! Up Close and Personal”

  1. Lou said

    Mac N Cheese….Sounds great Kevin.


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