When it’s as cold outside as it’s been in the last few weeks I can’t help but think about comfort food that’s perfect for this time of year. Whether it’s stew or a slow cooked beef ragu, the cold just calls for something hearty and delicious. The one dish that has become my current favourite, and my go to meal when comfort food is called for is macaroni and cheese. When it’s freezing outside you can’t beat the rich creamy goodness from a perfect mac n cheese. So I’m going to share my recipe here, but because I always make loads extra I’ve been in the kitchen experimenting with different ways to use up the leftovers and the ones that turn out well will be shared in the next few weeks. First up later this week will be a filthy delicious grilled mac n cheese sandwich
Anyway before we can use the leftovers we need to actually make the macaroni. For this dish I started off with a recipe from the 1946 Fannie Farmers Boston Cookery school cookbook recommended by an American friend. But to give it my own twist I’ve added a few little extras to make it even better.
Mac n Cheese (Serves 4)
50g unsalted butter
4 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
200g mature cheddar cheese
150g good quality ham, thickly sliced
1. First things first cook the macaroni, drain and put to one side for later. Make sure not to over cook the pasta as you want a bit of bite
2. Pre-heat your oven to 200c
3. We start off by making a roux sauce. Over a medium heat melt the butter in a large pan. Once melted add in the flour and mix until combined (I use a whisk for this), then add the salt and pepper.
4. Then gradually add the milk and cream stirring continuously as you go. Once all the liquid has been added, turn up the heat and allow it to boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch.
5. Turn the heat back to medium and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes, during which time the sauce should get much thicker. Don’t forget to keep stirring every now and again.
6. While the sauce is simmering away grate your cheese and chop up your ham into good chucks. With the cheese you can play around and choose different combinations, but I love this dish with a really good quality mature cheddar and some fresh Parmesan.
7. Add the cheese to the sauce and stir in until the cheese has melted.
8. If you’re staying traditional you can ignore this step but I prefer my mac and cheese with a few extras, so before I add the pasta I stir in about 150g of ham chunks and a small dollop of chilli sauce (I use The Rib Man’s Holy Fuck sauce). The ham adds a nice extra flavour and the hot sauce adds a gentle heat that work perfectly with the cheese.
9. Add in the cooked pasta and mix until all the pasta is completely covered.
10. Tip the macaroni into your ovenproof dish. If you want to save some for later (and I would highly recommend it) you can freeze the macaroni at this point, or it’ll keep in the fridge for a few days as well.
11. Sprinkle a generous amount of breadcrumbs and parmesan over the macaroni and then place in the oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling away nicely.