Boxed macaroni and cheese–Luxury brand, specifically–fueled many of my undergraduate days. None of the prefabricated Velveeta cheese splooge in my dorm room, thank you very much. Just good ol’ salted butter, whole milk, and the magic powdered cheese packed tucked inside each 3-for-$1 box of Luxury. It was creamy, cheesy, salty, filling, and cheap. Thankfully, nutrition labels were harder to read back then, or I might never have tasted it in the first place.
While I haven’t had a box of Luxury in many years, I did spot Vermont cheddar cheese powder in a recent King Arthur Flour catalog….the blurb suggested “Make your own boxed mac-n-cheese,” and I immediately placed an order. Could I re-create the Luxury taste without the box? Barilla Plus higher-protein pasta (made with wheat and legume flours) would have to substitute for standard noodles, and I managed to sneak in some green vegetables, but the results were pretty close. Since the cheese powder doesn’t contain coloring, it lacked the characteristic bright orange flair. Still, it was a taste trip down memory lane.
- 2 cups (uncooked) Barilla Plus elbow macaroni
- 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small, bite-sized pieces
- 3 T salted, full-flavored butter (I used Smith’s Creamery butter)
- 1/3 cup Vermont cheddar cheese powder
- black pepper, Sriracha sauce, or Tabasco, to taste
Bring 3 quarts water to boil in a medium saucepan; place broccoli florets into the boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute, until bright green. Remove with a skimmer and reserve. Return water to a boil, then add elbow macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve. In the same saucepan, over low heat, add butter and milk. Heat until butter is melted. Whisk in cheese powder, stirring until a smooth sauce forms. Add black pepper and/or hot sauces to taste. Return macaroni and broccoli to the pot, folding to coat all with the cheese sauce. (Asparagus spears, cut on the bias, sweet green peas, or finely chopped spinach may be substituted for the broccoli.)