As some of you know, I am currently obsessed with pressure cooking. Things that take hours on a conventional stove or oven, take minutes in a pressure cooker. I have a stove-top Fagor 8-quart pressure cooker (yes, the first one I bought was electric and it turned out to be a piece of crap). And in reading the instructions, it explicitly said not to cook macaroni or other pasta in the cooker because it can clog up the pressure release valve. King Daddy had very thoughtfully bought me America Test Kitchen’s Pressure Cooker Perfection and in it was what looked to be a promising recipe for macaroni and cheese.
But wait! If you are not familiar with America’s Test Kitchen, it is a group of obsessively accurate cooks who like to test everything multiple ways to determine the absolute best recipe. If you screw up a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen you are truly a moron. And right there in the cookbook, they recommend the Fagor pressure cooker I have and they have multiple recipes for pasta. Somebody’s wrong here and I had to find out who.
So I call the America’s Test Kitchen podcast hotline and leave a message. I am figuring that no one will call me back. But a few days later, I did get a call back from a lovely woman named Debby wanting to know if I’d like to ask my question on the podcast with Christopher Kimball and Bridget Lancaster.
Here they are on their PBS show. Chris, if I may call him that and I will, is the founder of Cooks Illustrated Magazine, America’s Test Kitchen and other related empires. Bridget is the culinary expert. I have watched their shows and listened to the podcast for years so I am star struck in a food nerd sort of way.
I am instructed to be by the phone from 6:30 – 9 a.m. on the appointed day to receive a phone call from them. On the appointed day, I wake up at 5 a.m. in anticipation. I settle myself in my garage office, with the door open because it is nice outside, and drink five cups of coffee and smoke 15 cigarettes until 6:30 rolls around. I am certain I will be their first call since my question is obviously so vital.
The clock strikes 6:30 and the phone does not ring. I check it to make sure it’s got enough battery power. I check “recent calls” in case they called early while I ran up to go to the bathroom. Nothing. Seven o’clock…7:30…8 a.m. No call. I have now played 875 rounds of Spider Solitaire.
Finally, at 8:15 the phone rings! It’s another nice lady asking if I would like to talk to Chris and Bridget. Are you kidding?
They are lovely. To make this long story short, Chris believes the Fagor people are just too cautious in their instruction manual. America’s Test Kitchen tested this mac and cheese recipe and it works just fine. It was probably the creamiest mac and cheese I’ve ever had and the pasta turned out perfectly cooked.
I believe ATK would frown on me giving you the recipe because they’d rather have you buy the book. But if you don’t have a pressure cooker (silly you), I can report that you can make it with 8 ounces of cooked macaroni, 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk, 1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese and 1 cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. It’s the evaporated milk that sends this to the moon and back.