Start to finish: 30 minutes
2 cups elbow macaroni
265 milliliters (1 1/8 cups) milk or water
11 grams (2 1/4 teaspoons) sodium citrate
285 grams (about 2 1/2 cups) finely grated white cheddar cheese
Salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the pasta, but do not rinse it.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk or water and sodium citrate. Bring to a simmer. Add the cheese, a spoonful at a time, stirring well between additions. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted and steaming, then transfer the sauce to a food processor. Process until completely smooth, about 30 seconds.
Transfer the cheese sauce immediately back to the saucepan, and return to the heat. Once the sauce is hot, add the pasta, and stir until coated. Season with salt.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Scott Heimendinger is the director of applied research for The Cooking Lab, the culinary research team led by Nathan Myhrvold that produced the cookbooks "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking" and "Modernist Cuisine at Home."