In The Doritos Effect, author Mark Schatzker discusses the complex flavor profile that makes snack foods like Doritos and Coca-Cola irresistible. Everybody knows what Coca-Cola should taste like, but it’s very difficult to isolate exactly what’s going on. Do we taste a little bit of vanilla? A hint of lime? Maybe some cinnamon? It’s the same with Doritos, which are at once cheesy, garlicky, peppery, and packed with umami. Your brain can’t completely process their taste—which means it’s easy to consume large quantities without ever getting sick of that elusive nacho-cheesier flavor.
This recipe needs some Accent (or other brand of MSG) to be a little more authentic to the original. Before anyone complains, MSG is no worse for you than salt and it really boosts the umami flavor of the cheeses.
I want to believe that the ingredients listed are real, and that additives aren’t necessary.
Keen watchers would notice that no one in the video are wearing gloves. There’s some pretty good research that shows that gloves in food preparation causes workers to be less clean due to them believing they don’t have to clean / wash as much. I’m willing to believe that also. I’ve worked in some really high end restaurants – nobody wears gloves, ever, and it would be nearly impossible to make fine food doing so.
Coming shortly after the news that the mafia is running a fake olive oil racket in Italy, the FDA is now warning cheese lovers that their Parmesan might be not just fake but made of—wait for it—wood bits.
The only way you get that additive is if you buy it in the aisle where the pasta and sauce usually are. Cheese spoils easily, so when in doubt go to the refrigerated section and buy a chunk there. If you grate it yourself (and sing while you grate it, something my Mom used to make me do so I wouldn’t eat the cheese) in a microplane, a little bit goes a long way.
For those of you who are allergic to tomatoes, can’t eat nightshades, don’t care for marinara, or are simply looking for an alternative to ubiquitous red sauce, here’s an idea: braised onion pasta sauce.
Alfredo is just butter and parmesan— that’s it. I mean the real original Alfredo—it’s not milk and flour and garlic and other things in a jar. That vegan recipe is closer to a Salsa di Noci (without the cream, obviously, and with cashews instead of walnuts) than to an Alfredo. Why not call it Garlic Cashew Sauce? It would be the right name.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some more options from time to time? Sure, we’ve got other cheeses like Pecorino Romano or a good aged ricotta salata, but they’re really just variations on a theme. What I want is something that can be used just like grated Parmesan, but brings a new set of flavors to the table. It’s something of particular interest to me during the month of February, when I maintain an entirely vegan diet (and I can tell you, cheese is the one thing I miss most). But I was after something that wouldn’t just carry me through February: I wanted something that I’d keep in my pantry all through the year and I’m afraid the common solution of cashews ground with nutritional yeast just ain’t gonna cut it.
Sodium citrate may sound unfamiliar and possibly suspect, but it’s basically just a form of salt that works as an emulsifier. More plainly stated, it’s an agent that reduces the cheese’s acidity, makes the proteins in the cheese more soluble, and prevents it from separating into a greasy mess; instead creating a smooth, creamy texture that will never “break.” You probably won’t find it at a normal grocery store, but it’s available in specialty food stores and online. It looks like salt and tastes slightly sour (and of course salty), and you’ve probably tasted it before in club soda. Just the tiniest sprinkle of it will transform an entire block of cheese into a submissive puddle of its former self, so there’s little need to be concerned that it’ll increase the sodium level of your cheese sauce. (And if you’re that concerned about your sodium intake, you’re unlikely to eat a heaping plate full of delicious nachos anyway.)
A Mornay sauce is a classic French cheese sauce based on Bechamel. The butter (emulsifier) and flour (binding agent) react with the cheese in order to work within a certain range of temperature to get that creamy goodness. It is a great sauce but even under the most watchful eye, it can “break” (meaning when the oil separates) – rendering the sauce useless.
Cheeses have different melting temperatures, and overheating cheese leads to the “breaking”. So the key is to heat cheese to its melting point, without going too far. To make a sauce out of a cheese that is difficult to work with (harder cheeses, like Parmesan or Romano)? Add a little sodium citrate (E331) and a little liquid (water, beer if you want to add flavour) chemically emulsifies the cheese into a sauce that does not break. It’s a foolproof way to nail cheese sauce, without resorting to Cheeze Whiz/etc.