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updated: 3/11/2013 2:12 PM

'Fat-Free' Mac and cheese

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5 ounces (5/8 cup/150 ml) water

1½ cups cauliflower, thinly sliced

2 1/8 cups water

4 cups finely grated, Monterrey Jack cheese

4 cups finely grated, Gruyere cheese

½ teaspoon sugar

1¼ cups dry macaroni

Salt, to taste

Combine the cauliflower and 5 ounces water in a pot and simmer until very tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.

Purée cauliflower until smooth. Pass the purée through a sieve; measure ¼ cup and reserve.

Fill a large soup pot three-quarters full with hot water from the tap, place over medium heat until it reaches 176 degrees (use an instant-read digital thermometer). Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to hold the water at that temperature.

Combine 2 1/8 cups water with the cheeses in a one-gallon zip-top bag; remove as much air as possible and seal (this bag need to sink into the warmed water). Cook in the water bath (sous vide) for 30 minutes. Remove bag from the water bath and cool at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Strain cheese-water mixture through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth. Measure 2 1/8 cups of the cheese water for use in the next step and discard or reserve the solids. (Refrigerate or freeze solids for another use, or use to make Cheese Crisps, see related recipe.)

Add the cheese water and sugar to a medium pot; stir to dissolve and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir macaroni into the cheese water, and reduce heat to medium. Cook until most of the cheese water has been absorbed and the macaroni is just al dente, about 7 minutes. Fold the reserved cauliflower purée into the mac and cheese. Season with salt to taste and serve warm.

Serves four to five.

Nutrition values per serving: 135 calories (3.7 percent from fat), 0.6 g fat (0 saturated), 27.5 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fiber, 4.4 g protein, 0 cholesterol, 496 mg sodium.

Adapted from "Modernist Cusine at Home" by Nathan Myhrvold with Maime Bilets (2012)

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