One of the most popular and delicious side dishes here at Texas Chicken and Burger, our Texas Original Mac and Cheese is a real crowd pleaser. Perfectly cooked pasta married with the perfect blend of melted cheese creates an irresistible comfort food that feels like home. In this blog entry, the bona fide Southern style food experts here at Texas Chicken and Burger will detail some of the illustrious history of mac and cheese.
The Term Macaroni
The word ‘Macaroni’ originates from the Greek word ‘makaria’, meant to describe something created out of barley. The Italians distorted this term into ‘maccheroni’ which became a general phrase to describe all pasta during medieval eras. The original recipes for mac and cheese can be found around the year 1300, in the cookbook ‘Liber de Coquina,’ in recipes with baked pasta and Parmesan cheese sauce.
Early American Cheese Making
America built its first cheese factory in the year 1851, during the heydey of the industrial revolution. This allowed a much higher amount of people to enjoy cheese, as previously all cheese was homemade on farms. Processed cheese essentially is emulsified and cooked cheese, making it much less perishable (this is the early versions of cheese inventions like Easy Cheese, powdered cheese, and Kraft singles.) This process cheese was ideal for soldiers, as well as to provide essential nutrients for those without access to refrigeration.
Early Mac and Cheese Recipes
Much of our style of mac and cheese originated in Colonial America, in casserole dishes made from recipes passed along from English relatives - although these dishes were primarily stuck to the Upper Class until the Industrial Revolution.In fact, while Thomas Jefferson is often credited for popularizing macaroni and cheese in the United States, his enslaved African American chef named James Hemmings popularized it - as mac and cheese was a popular celebratory dish in the Antebellum South. Thomas Jefferson did help popularize the dish though, serving it up at State dinners after loving eating it during his visits to Italy, after which he brought back a pasta maker - serving it to the famous Mary Rudolph, who was a hostess at the White House (and even included a Parmesan based macaroni recipe in her 1924 cookbook called ‘The Virginia Housewife.’Kraft invented instant Macaroni and Cheese Dinners towards the end of the Great Depression, in 1937. This was a fast and cheap way to fill a whole family - with 8 million boxes being sold that year alone. However, the instant cheese pales in comparison to a true homemade recipe cooked with love, like the way we do it here at Texas Chicken and Burger.