This is another dish that I would never use a recipe to make, because quite frankly its all very simple. I do however have a few preferences when it comes to the classic comfort staple of macaroni and cheese.
And these are what they are:
- I hate a dry mac ‘n cheese. Like the ones where if you slice a square out if it and it stays in a square.
- I hate a very white version.
- I like bits added.
- I quite like using other short pasta other than macaroni like penne or rigatoni
- I always like to add tomatoes, and roasting the tomatoes before brings out their sweetness and adds incredible depth of flavour. Tomatoes also help make your mac ‘n cheese very saucy. I like saucy.
- Crispy bacon is a total winner and its how my mom used to make it.
- I love a crispy top. So whether you add crumbs and cheese, or tomatoes and cheese, or bacon bits and cheese, it needs to have a golden brown crispy top.
- I like crispy bits of pasta popping out the side creating crunchy texture. I am am crunch junky.
- I like to use more than one type of cheese, but think 4 cheeses are way OTT. It crowds the flavour, makes it too oily and confuses the palate.
- I always add mustard to my bechamel or cheese sauce. It totally amplifies the flavour.
- A sprinkling of herbs, especially thyme gives it a little wake up call.
- If I’m feeling spicy, a hint of chilli is fabulous but I never want garlic any-where-near my mac ‘n cheese.
- Make sure you do not over boil your pasta, it needs to be very firm to the tooth, otherwise it will go stodgy.
Ok, so maybe I am just a little bit fussy, but when it comes to mac ‘n cheese, in a similar way to how I chooses a man, I know what I like.
I bought a bag of farm rosa tomatoes when I popped past The Larder last week and roasted these beauties for 20 minutes on 180C.
Roast a lot of tomatoes. I suggest roasting more than you will need because if you are going to the trouble, they are wonderful to have around to add to salads, soups, or sauces.
I made a lot, but I also made another extremely exciting mac ‘n cheese variation which you will see in my next post.
This recipe will make enough to feed 4:
Cheese sauce (approximate measures here)
- 50 – 60g butter (half a stick)
- about 3 desserts spoons of flour (its s touchy feely thing, you want the flour to soak up all the butter)
- about 3 cups of milk
- 1 – 2 T of Dijon mustard
- 3/4 of a cup to a cup of grated mature cheddar (you can use more if you want it very cheesy)
- salt and pepper
For the rest:
- about 350 – 400g short noodle pasta like macaroni or penne
- 200 g of dry cured bacon, cut up and fried to crispy
- about 1 cup of roasted rosa or cherry tomatoes
- a sprig or 2 of thyme – leaves removed (plus extra to roast with)
- salt and pepper
- 60g of Parmesan cheese grated for the top
- a splash of olive oil to roast the tomatoes
Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and a few whole sprigs of thyme for 20 minutes at 180C. While this is going on, boil your pasta until al dente. I always make sure it is very al dente. Make your bechamel sauce, making sure the sauce has reached its maximum thickness and is perfectly seasoned before you add the cheese. keep adding milk until you are satisfied with the consistency. Fry your bacon in a pan and set aside to drain.
When the tomatoes and pasta are cooked, mix everything together, empty into an appropriately sized oven dish, grate over the Parmesan cheese and bake until golden brown. This will take between 30 – 40 minutes.
14. I prefer to eat my mac ‘n cheese just like it is, with nothing else other than perhaps a glass of wine.
How do you like yours?
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