Apart from the name - mac'n'cheese in the US, macaroni cheese in Britain - is there a difference in this homely pasta dish either side of the pond? The main one, judging from my recent trip to New York is that you Americans like breadcrumbs on the top - you rarely have it that way in the UK.
Yanks being so much better at comfort food than us I was hoping to find the ultimate mac'n'cheese but only one came near that from the cheese-centred brasserie Artisanal (above) which serves it in two sizes for a main course and a side. Having already tried their French onion soup (3 types of onion and 3 cheeses. Very good) I settled for the side which was about the size of a British main course. It wasn't quite piquant enough for my taste - I like a bit of mustard and Worcestershire sauce in there - but it did have this great crust of crispy, buttered, faintly cheesy crumbs - a good addition.
I was even more excited about going to a dedicated mac'n'cheese restaurant called S'Mac in East Village - and so was everyone else it seemed. On a Saturday lunchtime there was a lengthy queue to even get into the place but once I saw the dishes that were being taken to the tables - and spotted one of the chefs coming in with large plastic bags of pre-grated cheese I decided against it. It looked like deep dish pizza - shame as some of the riffs on macaroni cheese looked fun.
Another side of mac'n'cheese (served oddly with a sandwich at City Winery which does a weekly cheese brunch) failed for being too claggy - the sauce should be light rather than dense IMO, which means adding a little more milk than you might think it merits - but without,of course, making it thin.
In my new book I experimented with two types - an Extra-Crispy Macaroni Cheese where you make cheddar crisps and break them up in the sauce for extra crunch and a extra healthy one made with semi-skimmed milk and added greens - both yummy, I think. I also like it made with leeks and bacon or ham but how do these additions go down with you?
In short what makes the perfect mac/macaroni cheese? Best type of cheese(s)? Best added ingredients - or none at all? What type of seasoning? A crunchy crust or a crispy one? Over to you!