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Food experiment

I decided on a whim that I wanted to cook a simple family recipe, the rather self-explanatory Noodles, Wieners, and Cheese, aka NWC (pronounced “nwook,” although more vowel-less).  Although in later years I insisted on a vegetable, so it became Noodles, Wieners, Corn, and Cheese, or NWCC (“nwook-uk”).  The cheese in question is good ol’ cheddar, and I choose to make it with whole grain noodles and organic turkey franks.

Now, in the past, the procedure was simply to add in the corn with the boiling noodles a few minutes before they were done, then drain, return to the pot, add margarine or oil, stir in the sliced wieners to heat, then grate on the cheddar and stir until adequately melted and distributed.   (Yes, it’s a sticky mess.  A more proper cheese sauce is beyond my knowhow, and I’m used to it this way.)  However, these days I don’t like to boil and drain veggies, because that takes away nutrients.  Normally I’d stick the corn in the steamer basket for a few minutes and then stir it in, while I thawed the franks in the microwave.

But this time I had an idea to try something different, inspired by watching my friend David Mack’s wife Kara do her cooking while I was visiting them last month.  I decided to use a small saucepan to lightly brown the wiener slices and roast sauté the corn.  That way, I could bring out some richer flavors.  And it turned out pretty well.  The wieners and corn definitely taste better.  Though it occurred to me in retrospect that I could’ve saved myself some washing if I’d just waited until the noodles were done and let them sit in the strainer while I used the already-hot bottom of the pot to do the browning/roasting.  Would’ve taken a few minutes longer, but not too much, considering how much time it took the saucepan to heat up adequately.

I could’ve planned out the portions better, too.  When I put the wieners and corn in the pot, I realized there wasn’t enough relative to the noodles I’d made (i.e. what was left in the package, which had looked like enough at the time but turned out to be too much because I always underestimate how much pasta I’m making).  Luckily, I hadn’t added the noodles yet, so I just put a serving’s worth into a storage container and added a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.  So now, instead of two leftover servings of NWCC, I have one serving of NWCC and one serving of just plain noodles that I can do something else with.  Maybe not so poorly planned after all.

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  1. Marc Hart
    November 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Chris, I’ve found a cheese sauce really easy to do and it takes about 5 mins, depending on quantity. Use a standard 2-cup jug (the Pyrex or something similar).

    You need 1-2 heaped teaspoons/1 tablespoon butter.
    Plain flour (amount used depends on butter)

    Step 1: For approx. half a pint of cheese sauce (I’m British so you might have to make some conversions) I put a heaped tablespoon of butter in the jug and melt in the microwave (takes about 30 secs.)

    Step 2: Add flour a little at a time until it becomes a paste

    Step 3: Add the milk (a little under half a pint).

    Step 4: Stir until the butter/flour paste mixes with the milk and heat in the microwave for 60 secs.

    Step 5: Repeat step four 3-4 times until the sauce thickens and then stir in the cheese.

    The cheese you use is obviously up to you but for a nice stringy mixture I like using mozzarella. Cheddar works well too and foreign cheeses like Edam provide a nice flavor too. Even blue cheese if you want a little bite to it.

    Hope you try it, and hope it works for you.

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