2 Nov 2015

Mac n' Cheese, the real deal


The food we eat as kids is as much a part of our culture as the cartoons we used to watch on TV and the songs that used to play on the radio when we were growing up. 

Take The Man and I for example.
I grew up with Coquillettes-Ham (little pasta served with cubed ham), knacki-mash (frankfurt sausages cut in small pieces and mixed with mash potatoes), chocolate Danette (chocolate custard) and Nutella on Toast.
The Man grew up munching on beans on toast, fish finger sandwiches, apple crumble and jelly & ice-cream.

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Realising our respective lack of knowledge, we've decided to discover each other's kids food.

I am not sure I will post here the recipe of fish finger sandwiches (this blog has a bit of self-esteem after all), but I had to share this Macaroni and cheese recipe, which makes you wish cheese and pasta were two of your five a day!



Mac n' Cheese, the real deal

There are not many dishes that beat a Mac n' Cheese in the comfort food category. 
On a rainy Sunday morning, I adapted here a recipe from the god of comfort food, Jamie Oliver, changing little things here and there to get a dish perfect to my taste. 
NB: I cooked my Mac n' Cheese a bit too long in the oven, which is why it looks a tiny bit dry on the pictures. That's why I've adapted the timings in the recipe below, so yours should be perfect!
 
Ingredients (for 4 people)
45 g butter
3 heaped tablespoons plain flour
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
6 bay leaves
1 litre semi-skimmed milk
600 g dried macaroni
150 g Cheddar, grated
100 g Parmesan, grated
a few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
Worcestershire sauce
1 grating nutmeg, optional
3 big handfuls fresh breadcrumbs or 1 slice of bread
olive oil, salt and pepper

Method: 
1/ Bring to the boil a large pan of salted water.

2/ Melt the butter in a large ovenproof saucepan over a low heat, then add the flour and turn the heat up to medium, stirring all the time, until you get a paste. Add all the sliced garlic. Keep cooking and stirring until golden and the garlic is nice and sticky. Add the bay leaves and slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time to ensure you get a nice smooth sauce. Bring the mixture to the boil, then leave it on a low heat to simmer and tick away, stirring occasionally.

3/ Preheat your oven to 220ºC.

4/ Add the pasta to the pan of boiling salted water and cook them al dente according to the packet instructions. Drain the pasta, keeping a mug of pasta water and add the pasta it immediately to the sauce. Give it a good stir and take the pan off the heat. Stir in the grated cheeses, and thyme leaves.
Add a few splashed of Worcestershire sauce, and a little grating or two of nutmeg. You want the mixture to be slightly too wet because it will thicken up again in the oven, so add some of the saved pasta water, around 1/2mug 9up to a mug depending on the consistency of the sauce).

5/ Make the breadcrumbs: in a food processor, whizz the bread, a few leaves of thyme and a drizzle of olive oil until it forms breadcrumbs. Keep aside.

6/ If the sauce has been made in an ovenproof casserole pan, leave everything in it; if not, transfer it to a deep oven proof dish. Bake it around 10 minutes in the oven. Add the breadcrumbs, and bake for 5 more minutes until golden and crispy.

7/ Serve the Mac n’ Cheese with a salad




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