Midweek meals :: Ultimate Mac and Cheese

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So this weeks midweek is technically closer to the weekend, but I wanted to hold back because I am making this today for our tea and thought for some weird reason that meant I had to post it on the same day. Weird right?

 

Today we have my all time favourite comfort food, the food I judge a restaurant by, the beautifully simple creation that can make a rubbish day better, Macaroni Cheese. If this is on the menu, I order it. It has completely put me off many a restaurant loved by all (Byron's Mac is awful, burgers good, mac not so). If i don't know what to make for tea and is raining outside I reach for my cheese.

 

This recipe is absurdly simple, and open to variation. I have only two stipulations, you must use at least one of each type of cheese, and you must add a large grind of black pepper. Trust me.

 

You will need:

50g plain flour

50g butter

700ml milk

400g macaroni

6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon chopped into slices

1 pot cream cheese

1 small block of strong  relatively hard cheese (I use Extra mature cheddar)

1 block hard pungent cheese

Black pepper.

 

- Start frying your bacon, you need it low and slow that it goes really crispy and the fat renders.

 

- Set your macaroni on to boil in oiled and salted water.

 

- In a saucepan, melt your butter over a low heat. Once melted add your flour and stir, cook for a few minutes before gradually adding the milk. Stir all of the milk into the flour/butter paste before adding more.

 

- Grate your cheeses. I have not specified amounts for these because it entirely depends how cheesy you like your macaroni cheese, what is absolutely essential is that you use a minimum of 3 cheeses, soft cream cheese, extra mature cheddar and parmesan are the basics. I often use more, adding gruyere and goats cheese into mine (I do not recommend blue cheese such as stilton or dolchelatte), the basics will do if you don't have more to hand though, and you need a ratio of 1 part parmesan to 2 parts soft cheese to 3 parts cheddar.

 

- Once all of the milk is incorporated, mix in your grated cheeses. Remove the pan from the heat and stir, letting the residual heat melt it all together.

 

- Add your bacon, and this is important, also add the rendered bacon grease into the mix. you are not going to add any salt to the sauce so you need as much of that bacon flavour as possible. Stir.

 

- Drain your pasta and add your completed sauce to the pan the pasta was cooking in. The little bits of residual starch water in the pan will help make the dish super smooth.

 

- Now the most important step of all. Pepper. Do not skimp on this step, it is important to add this once everything is mixed together so that you can taste it as you go and get the right amount. I like mine to be highly speckled once stirred, and for the heat to complement the sharpness of the cheese. In all honesty, all macaroni cheese is inferior if it does not contain a good grind of pepper.

 

I make a huge batch of this and attempt to store it for a few days, usually it lasts until the next day if I am lucky, sometimes James eats it all before i even get a leftovers packed lunch out of it!

 

Let me know if you have a favourite cheese combo for this in the comments!