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I need to make a large batch (to serve 30) of mac 'n' cheese, and rather than bothering with my standard roux - cheese sauce, I thought maybe I could cheat with a short cut.

I dug up an old recipe for crock pot mac 'n' cheese. I have used it with great success many times over, and never had it fail. I thought I'd do a small "trial run" of it since it's been a while since I used it. Failure. I have a few theories on what may have gone wrong, but I'd love input from impartial cooks.

For what it's worth, the recipe calls for 4 cups cheddar, 1 cup jack, 2 cups milk, 2 cups cream, salt, pepper, dry mustard, few dashes hot sauce (optional), a pound of macaroni and a half cup of sour cream. Throw everything except macaroni and sour cream in crock, cover and cook on low for 1 hour. Stir in mac and sour cream, cover and cook for another hour to an hour and fifteen.

When I stirred in the macaroni, the sauce did look a bit "gloopy" but it wasn't really very warm yet, and If I recall correctly, that is how it always looks at this point.

I did use all milk instead of part milk/part cream, as I didn't have any cream on hand.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I hope I'm answering the right question. Your title says "grainy" but then the rest of the question talks about "gloopy". If the problem really is grainy, I think the issue may be that you are using better cheese than in the past. Well aged cheeses tend to get a little bit drier and crystalline, and then they don't seem to melt as well. I've had grainy in that case too. Sometimes I'm happy to live with a little bit of the graininess to get the better flavor.

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The problem is your putting all your cheese in at once. These cheese is going to settle on the bottom which would cause to clump up and be gloopy.

you need to stir small portions of the cheese at a time until it is melted. rinse, repeat and continue.

of course this is a crock pot recipe....

your probably best to make the cheese sauce portion on the stove first, then combine in a crock pot after.

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Low on a crock for an hour doesn't sound like much time at all. Perhaps this is a larger batch than last time? Perhaps last time it was on high for an hour? Typically low on a crock is used longer cook times.

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I think the grainyness may have come from the following - Fat content on the cheese- Was it low fat, Those cheese have wierd stuff in them to supplement the fat in normal cheese. - was the cheese pre-shredded? Preshredded cheese has corn starch and other stuff on it to keep it from caking together. I speculate this could have effected ur sauce. - Use Whole milk

I would always recommend starting with a good bechamel sauce and add the cheese you like to that sauce. I do it pretty regularly and it always makes for a smooth, rich creamy sauce.

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This may sound counterintuitive, but adding flour prior to adding the cheese can smoothen the process of adding cheese. If you look to one of the old Betty Crocker's (or the website under "Classic") you will see that it was a part of the base of the sauce. I typically add it by pinches rather than by any fraction of a cup, but still it can help.

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It was almost certainly the lack of fat from cream. I once tried to make Alfredo sauce using milk... miserable failure doesn't begin to cover it. The cheese just clumped and turned practically crunchy, it seized so bad. I've since figured out that sour cream is a much better substitute than milk if I don't have cream handy. (With my mother in the house, there is always sour cream.)

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