They’re not exactly the height of cuisine, but they can be tasty and they are easy! But, most of the on-the-box recipes are lame. They have you mix the sauce mix, the cold water, an absurd amount of butter, and the noodles all together and then boil for something like an eternity of 15 minutes. Then they have some notice like “sauce may be watery but will thicken over time”. Yeah right. Just sit there for an hour or so as the sauce gets cold and thickens, and your noodles turn into baby-food-like mush. There is no way this can turn out right – the evaporation rate of the water depends on the temperature, humidity, pan used, etc. There’s no way it can be correct just as the noodles reach perfection. And putting pasta into cold water is against at least one of the ten commandments.
I’ve emailed Kraft foods and the Rice-a-Roni corporations about this but they are uncaring and uninterested in improving their products. So, as a service to all those college students and other lazy chefs out there, here is the way it’s done.
1) Boil the water. Use several times the volume of water of whatever you’re cooking so that whatever your cooking heats quickly. This is a general rule or boiling things. Also, don’t add salt even if your mom says to – you get enough as it is! Yes it raises the boiling point just a little, but it’s not necessary to achieve optimal results. There’s already plenty of sodium in that fake cheese packet anyway.
2) Put in the noodles and cook for a normal pasta amount of time – 5 to 8 minutes depending on the noodle. For best results pick one out with a spoon early and test to get it right. Error on the side of not quite done as they’re going to continue cooking quite a bit.
3) Drain the noodles. You can do this with a colander, or many more adventurous ways. Then put the noodles back in the dry pan.
5) Add a little milk. You can add some butter too if you want more fat and calories but it really isn’t even noticeable in the taste. Put the pan back on the stove.
6) Add the flavor packet and stir it up. If it’s dry, add a little more milk until it’s just right. Don’t add too much milk.
So that’s your basic recipe. Much more in part II coming up!
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