Kraft Dinner: Beyond the Blue Box
The Blue Box, or Kraft Dinner, has been a pivotal player in feeding the masses of North America since 1937. The original slogan: “A Meal for Four in Nine Minutes for an Everyday Price of 19 Cents” in the original, mostly YELLOW box vended out 50 million during the Second World War. James Kraft, a Canadian in Chicago, was the lucky guy who captured the processed cheese award back in 1916. Crafting his fares led to the roll-out of the greatest invention of the 20th Century some say, The Kraft Dinner. Debuting at a time when the masses needed more or less anything for nourishment, 1937, Kraft Dinner arose to serve millions in Canada and The US during the Depression, and the upcoming war a few years later.
KD, Macaroni Cheese, Kraft Dinner, Blue Box (Circa 1954), Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, or Cheesey Pasta (As our friends on the other side of the pond call it) has various labels yet one thing remains a constant, It is AWESOME! So, let’s get to the basics before we get all crazy jazzing up a national treasure.
The Real KD Directions per Kraft (For those who haven’t memorized it):
What You Need:
- 1-1/2 (6 cups) water
- 1 pkg. (7-1/4 ) KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
- 1/4 cup margarine, cut up
- 1/4 cup milk
Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Add Macaroni; cook 7 to 8 min. or until tender, stirring occasionally.
Drain. (Do not rinse.) Return macaroni to pan.
Add margarine, milk and Cheese Sauce Mix; mix well.
As we can see from the maker themselves, super easy, yet delightful, stuff. Styles and additions are abound, trying to personify this simple staple into world class cuisine. The everlasting low price in itself deserves to position the Kraft Dinner as a Super food!
Construction is simple as in above. Personally, adding the cheese packet first, along with:
- 1/8 teaspoon each Black pepper, Garlic, and Onion powder
- A pinch of Red Pepper Flakes and Dry Mustard.
- ¼ teaspoon Parmesan
- ¼ cup Extra Sharp Cheddar (Hold off on adding this cheese until further down the line)
- A Green Onion (Topping)
Mix all that goodness around until those noodles are coated from the leftover condensation. Now, add real, unsalted butter and cut the original recipe down to two tablespoons. Bury the butter under the noodles until melted. Now, slowly add milk while gently stirring. Enough to make creamy. I don’t follow the ¼ Cup Milk (Which whole or half and half are the only two usable fluids in this delectable dish), due to the addition of the extra sharp cheddar. Once you have the KD creamy, slowly add cheese while stirring. Continue to add milk (burner should be on the lowest setting possible, not off). Add enough milk really to your liking. I prefer to keep it on the moister side, which leads to a velvety virtuousness attributable to that extra sharp cheddar. Love that stuff! The final accouterments is a green onion scissored into its little circles over the top of the gilded plate of perfect pasta. Nom nom.
There is a way to create that packet of powdery precision at home. Cheese powder is out there. Who knew!? Walmart sells the stuff at $11.50 (USD) a pound. It too, lasts a long, long time. Great when invented at the time refrigeration was sparse. The original made it big due to its long shelf life of 10 months. Today, use it to create your own magical “KD” style cheesy blend.
Homemade Powdered Cheese:
- 1 ¼ Cup Powdered cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon parmesan cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon each Black Pepper, Onion and Garlic Powder
- Pinch each of Red Pepper Flakes, Dry Mustard, and Sea Salt
Simply combine all ingredients. Boil a pound of macaroni. Once done, drain and return to pot. Melt a stick of butter (Nobody ever said any good Mac n Cheese will be healthy for you…) into your hot noodles. Once melty, add a cup of milk, then your proprietary homespun cheese mixture to the fun. Heat on super low until hot and blended. Again, adding extra sharp cheddar cheese cannot hurt! Bacon and onions are friends to almost all dishes. Especially this one! Breadcrumbs can be a topper. But when baking a real Blue Box, drying out and over-doneness is prevalent unfortunately; therefore, not recommended.
Lastly, when talking macaroni and cheese, a béchamel into a mornay sauce is the correct, traditional and formal technique used throughout centuries.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2/3 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
- 1 3/4 cups finely grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A roux is needed. This thickens the sauce. Melt the butter fully. Add the flour slowly. Under medium heat, stir until beige. Slowly add milk while constantly stirring. Once a minimal start of a boil occurs(Bubbles rising), add all herbs and spices. Then, the cheese slowly stirred in so it all melts, not clumps. Add this delicious creamy, cheesy sauce to your pasta(1 lb cooked to box). Bake it off with some cheddar and breadcrumbs on top at 350 degrees for 40 minutes for a tradition, baked mac n cheese. Again, adding goodies to this casserole is highly recommended.
Thousands of recipes, thoughts, opinions, and emotions come out for this marvelous meal to many. Get the kids (or anyone ready to experience crafting golden greatness) involved researching and inventing their own take on this treasured treat from Mont Royal, Quebec or Chicago Illinois, depending where you are located.