Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

When you think about your ultimate comfort food, I’m guessing that it includes cheese. For me, it’s probably grilled cheese, or alternatively, mac and cheese. 

We all probably grew up with it; those horrible orange-coloured, cello-wrapped slices of fake cheese melty between two slices of bread, and, of course, the blue box, with that nuclear-orange-coloured packet of powdered cheese. 

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Photo credit: Jeremy Dyson

But you’re not a kid now! You’re a grown-ass adult, and you deserve a grown-ass adult mac and cheese. 

What I love so very much about this recipe (which I have now been making for ages, but never actually bothered to post) is that it makes your favourite comfort food in about the same amount of time it takes you to make a boxed mac and cheese, except that it’s homemade. 

That’s right, kids. Homemade mac and cheese in the time it would take you to make boxed. 

We owe this amazing feat to that culinary MVP, the Instant Pot. 

Yes, yes, I’m obsessed. Noted. Moving on. 

So, in addition to this mac and cheese being quick, it can also very happily become a party. 

On a regular night, if you just need to feed the kids (or yourself after the bar, no judgement), I would pair this with a nice salad. 

But if you want to party with the mac and cheese, it’s down. Make a double batch (at least) and then break out a bunch of accoutrement. Dish up big, gooey bowls of mac and cheese, and then allow people to top it as they see fit. Kinda like sundaes, but with pasta. How can that be bad? 

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Bar

Photo credit: Jeremy Dyson

Here are some topping ideas: 

  • Toasted breadcrumbs (panko is king if you can get it)
  • Cherry tomato slices
  • Chopped fresh herbs (basil would be especially good here)
  • Arugula dressed with a little olive oil and salt
  • Caramelized onions 
  • Fancy flavoured salts
  • Balsamic reduction
  • Truffle oil (for the most fanciest, grown-up-est mac and cheese)
  • Bacon bits, pulled pork or pork belly for the omnis 

Add a salad and some crusty bread, and you have a mac and cheese party! 

A quick word about cheese: obviously cheddar is traditional. I like to use a mix; gruyere is great, because it has that beautiful stringy consistency when it melts. I also like to throw a little hard cheese into the mix; a pecorino or a parmesan. They have a nice nutty flavour, and add salt as well. I will basically use whatever I have on hand, but if I’m making it to serve to a crowd, I’ll seek out some fancier cheeses. Fancier cheeses = more grownup mac and cheese. 

Finally, it’s easy to adapt this recipe to be gluten free. Because it’s not made in a traditional way with a roux, just swap out your regular pasta for gluten-free, and you’ll be golden. 

Mac and Cheese Instant Pot

Photo credit: Jeremy Dyson

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese 

(serves 2-4)

Ingredients

  • 225 g dried elbow macaroni 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 

Method

  1. Place 2 cups of water in the Instant Pot, along with the salt and the macaroni. Give it a good stir. Place lid on, seal, and set to manual pressure cooking for 4 minutes. 
  2. After the 4 minutes are up, open the seal and allow the pressure to release. 
  3. Stir in the butter, milk, and smoked paprika. Stir until the butter is melted. 
  4. Add the cheese and continue to stir until it melts. If the sauce is too thin, turn on the sauté feature on the pot and allow it to cook down until you get the desired consistency. 
  5. Serve immediately. 

 

Reflections on Canada’s New Food Guide (2018)

Last year, the nice folks in Ottawa released a brand-new version of Canada’s Food Guide. This was the latest revision since… get this: 1992! They had gone a loooong time without updating it. 

Gone is the old “rainbow” model, to be replaced by a plate divided into sectors. 

The first thing that stands out is that there is literally zero mention of diary in this food guide. Previously, “milk products” took up quite a large chunk of the foods you were supposed to eat every day, and in this version, they are basically not represented at all. 

There is also very little meat pictured on the plate. A good 80% of the food pictured is plant-based. 

When it was released last year, there was a collective cheer from the vegan/vegetarian community, especially here in Vancouver. We have a large vegan/veg population, so looking at this plate feels reflective of how we eat here. 

The other thing I really like about the new food guide is that it doesn’t just focus on food, it also focuses on food-related behaviours. So, for example, it encourages people to cook and eat more at home, to eat together, to slow down and enjoy your foods, to learn to read labels, and to be aware of food advertising. 

The question is, how realistic is it for people to eat this way? 

Rebecca Coleman The Province

I was recently interviewed for an article in The Province, and one of the things we discussed was how much people are eating out these days. For many people, drive-through, going to a restaurant, or ordering delivery is part of their daily lives. While I do eat out a fair amount (as part of my job as a food blogger), I pretty much never order delivery. Even if we do go get burgers or sushi, we usually walk there, order takeout, and then come home to eat it. I always have frozen pizzas in my freezer, so we very seldom order that. I know, however, that I am likely the exception and not the rule. 

Preparing food at home takes planning and thought. I think about what I’m going to make this week, then I go out and shop for it. I do trips to Costco every month or 6 weeks, and trips to a larger grocery store about once a month for staples, then I go to my local produce market once a week or so for perishables. I spend a certain amount of time every week doing meal prep and making sure I always have healthy food on hand to grab. That’s the only way I can do it, because I otherwise would exist on peanut butter sandwiches and sushi. 

And for folks who don’t live in a big city, or who live, say, in the middle of Alberta… they aren’t giving up their meat. 

It’s great that Canada’s Food Guide is encouraging people to include more plant-based options in their diet, but this is not a change that is going to happen overnight. But every little bit counts… 

Read the full article here, and comment below with your thoughts! 

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