Here’s the recipe as it currently stands. Hatcher Kincheloe will make crackers on request “within reason,” he says. E-mail him at More racing news, blogs, photos and more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 (16-by-11-inch) nonstick jelly roll pan (preferably Silverstone or nonstick)
10 to 11 ounces New York State Extra Sharp cheddar cheese (he currently uses Heluva Good brand)
40 saltine crackers (preferably Zesta)
Ground red pepper
PLACE rack at the lowest level in a conventional oven. Turn heat on broil and allow oven to preheat.
PLACE crackers side-by-side on the pan, using about 40 crackers. The crackers should fit snugly and completely cover the pan. Break or trim a few crackers to fill in the top and side edges if necessary.
GRATE cheese over crackers, making sure cheese evenly covers entire surface. (The finer the grate on the cheese, the more successful the cracker.)
SPRINKLE cayenne pepper lightly and evenly over cheese. (Use sparingly.)
PLACE crackers on bottom rack. Leave the oven door open. As cheese melts, large bubbles will form. Bubbles will get progressively smaller as the crackers cook. (It may be necessary to prick several of the large bubbles as the cooking progresses to get them to pop and go down.) When the cheese has stopped bubbling and the top of the cheese appears to be stiffening, remove the pan from the oven. The time varies according to the oven, but it usually takes 8 to 15 minutes. Turn the pan if necessary to brown the cheese evenly. The goal is to broil the crackers just long enough for most of the moisture to cook away and for oils from the cheese to be partially absorbed by the crackers. If the pan is removed too soon, the cheese will settle, and the crackers will be hard. If it stays in too long, the cheese will scorch and the crackers will be bitter.
TURN oven to 155 degrees or the lowest setting and allow oven to cool.
WHILE crackers are still hot to the touch, cut with kitchen scissors into small sections (whatever shape and size you wish) and rearrange the sections back onto the pan, cheese side up. (A pizza cutter works great, if you remove the entire sheet of crackers to protect the pan or line the pan first with parchment paper.)
PLACE the pan back in the upper half of the oven. Close the door, and leave the crackers overnight (or at least 10 hours) on low.
STORE crackers in an airtight container or in sealed plastic bags. After a couple of days, the crackers may be freshened by placing them back in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes at 155 degrees.