This Is The Pioneer Woman's Secret To Perfect Mac And Cheese

Aw yes, mac and cheese, a lifelong friend to all. The dairy-filled pasta dish was there for us during the picky eater phase in elementary school, and it came through when we were on a shoe-string budget in our college dorm room. Mac and cheese graduated out of the box, and into the oven as we got our first job. The orange supper is a forever friend. But like all relationships, there's always room for more growth. Celebrity cook Ree Drummond, known as the Pioneer Woman, is dishing-out some tips to improve your next evening with the beloved meal.

The chef isn't too different from the rest of us. She says macaroni and cheese is "the only food I consumed until I was about fourteen years old" (via The Pioneer Woman). Fourteen crucial years of consuming exclusively mac and cheese would make anyone an expert, so if we're going to trust someone with the mac and cheese in our life, it should be her. The woman is pioneering — pun intended — the use of a secret ingredient though, and it's probably not what you think. Drummond claims that using dry mustard in her recipe works wonders. "It provides a tangy sharpness without injecting a definable flavor," the Pioneer Woman shares on her blog.

Mustard is great in the Pioneer Woman's mac and cheese

Other celeb chefs like Alton Brown, Ted Allen, and Fabio Vivani agree, and are adding the secret ingredient, mustard, to their mac and cheese recipes as well (via Food Republic). There's actually a bit of science behind why mustard is everyone's new mac and cheese-must. Mac and cheese is obviously really rich, which makes perfect sense when you consider it's primarily made-up of cream, butter and — of course — gobs of cheese. 

It's easy to assume you can never have too much of a good thing, but your body fills up fast if you are eating the dish alone. Chefs often contrast the meal by serving it with something acidic. If you've ever ordered mac and cheese at a restaurant, it is sometimes accompanied by a beer, hot sauce, or fried pickles. This is because the acidity in these sorts of foods reduce the denseness of the dairy in mac and cheese, and create a more balanced bite. Mustard has an acidic zestiness on it's own, and once it's married into mac and cheese, it brings out tangy notes in the dish with a subtle sensation.

Welcome in a new era of mac and cheese by adding some mustard into your favorite recipe next time.