Lab-a-roni and Cheese

Recently I was having a conversation about how many things one finds around the lab could be quite useful in the home. For example, parafilm seems like a much better substitute than your typical plastic wrap, and is probably even biodegradable. Those 50 ml conical tubes would be great for storing spices or as little travel containers for shampoo. This led me to thinking how I could concoct a meal in the lab with available equipment, and so I bring you a recipe for a delicious Lab-a-roni and Cheese, complete with catalog numbers:

First make a béchamel sauce. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a 100 ml flask over a gas bunsen burner (VWR 89038-530). On a stirring hotplate (Corning 6795-420D) warm up 2 ½ cups of milk in a 500 ml beaker (Corning 1060-500). In a separate hotplate transfer the melted butter to a separate 500 ml beaker and set to heat gently. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a roux, stirring with  a 5 ml disposable serological pipette (Fisher 13-676-10C) until it is bubbly and begins to brown a bit. While stirring add the hot milk slowly to the roux making sure it does not get clumpy. Add a large magnetic stir-bar (Fisher 14-513-67) to the sauce to stir and heat very gently. Take 250 grams of sharp cheddar cheese and shred it in a lab blender (Waring 710S) at low speed. Add about half of the cheese to your sauce. Add NaCl (Sigma) to taste to your sauce and 1g of cayenne pepper as well as some black pepper which you have just ground using a glass tissue homogenizer (Potter-Elvehjem 07-358029). Keep the sauce on low, with stirring on. Meanwhile fill a 4 liter glass beaker (Corning CG-8048-4L) with water and 10g NaCl and set to boil on a hotplate. Cook 1 box of pasta (De Cecco No.97) until slightly underdone. While the pasta cooks use a large microtome (RMC Products, Rotary Microtome MR2) to make 1 mm thick coronal slices of Genoa salami. Make about 10 slices. Cut the slices into thin strips with a No.10 scalpel (Fine Science Tools).  Drain pasta using the wire top of a rodent cage (Alternative Design # WL76F) suspended over the sink. Put the cooked pasta in a glass tray (Corning 3175-7) and add half the cheese sauce. Add half of the remaining cheese in a layer, then add another layer of pasta and the remaining sauce. Arrange the strips of salami on top. Cover with the leftover cheese and add some more ground pepper. Put tray in a dry-heat autoclave (Graham FIeld 8376) at 180°C for 20 min. Use a portable bunsen burner (Fisher 14-648-15) to brown the cheese on the surface. And there you go!


Please note: This is only a parody. I do not actually condone trying this in your own lab, don’t blame me if you destroy your lab equipment, get cheese all over the autoclave or if you get kicked out for bringing food into the lab. However, you can try this at home, with regular cooking supplies, and make yourself a delicious dinner.

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8 Responses to Lab-a-roni and Cheese

  1. Yael says:

    The rodent cage as strainer was priceless.

  2. OgreMkV says:

    My wife just said “no!”. sigh

    The most expensive mac and cheese ever.

  3. gerty-z says:

    love it! when i was a wee grad student the holiday part always had food that was heated in the autoclave and served on weigh boats. But this is a whole new level of awesome 🙂

  4. scicurious says:

    Really I’d LOVE to be able to use hot plates and stir bars in my kitchen. SO freakin useful.

  5. The next Heston Blumenthal?

    (OMG I want stir bars in my kitchen)

  6. Why don’t stoves come with built in stir bars? I’ve often had this discussion. Is there a patent issue? Are people too attached to their wooden spoons? Is there something toxic in the plastic coating on those bars? All of this seems surmountable and just imagine the possibilities – I could have pudding every night!

  7. Dr Becca says:

    Curse you! This sounds amazing, and right when I’m trying to reverse all the fatty damage I did at SfN. Did anyone see where my salad got to?

  8. DJMH says:

    Yes! A spoonula would be just the thing for measuring the cayenne.

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