Thursday, 31 May 2012

mackin' cheese!

mackin' mac & cheese: quick, cheesy and to the point!

when it all gets too much and even a trip to the store seems like a big ask, why not throw together the ultimate of comfort foods: mac & cheese! guaranteed to please, this simple meal will both soothe and cheer. the best part is, you're already going to have all the ingredients on hand at home. enjoy with your nearest and dearest, or just consume the whole lot alone in one sitting!

things you will need:

about 300g of elbow macaroni
freshly ground salt
600ml of milk
2 tablespoons of plain flour
50g of butter
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
any kind of cheese with a bit of bite (i used some odds and ends i had laying about in the fridge, about a cup of grated tasty, some gruyere chopped into tiny pieces and some grated parmesan. pick the cheeses to suit your tastes)
freshly ground pepper
a slice or two of bread

what you will need to do:

preheat the oven to 180C. bring a large pot of water to the boil. throw in a few pinches of salt and boil the macaroni until just before it hits al dente. you'll want it cooked but not overly so, as it'll turn to mush in the oven (not good!). drain, then transfer the boiled macaroni to a medium sized ovenproof dish.

in another, smaller pot, start making your cheese sauce. to do this, firstly melt the butter in the pan over a low to medium-low heat then stir in the flour. add all of the milk at once, stirring furiously to stop any lumps forming (if they do, don't worry, you can work them out with more stirring or if they're really bad, just fish them out at the end). keep the pan on the hob and keep stirring, the sauce will eventually boil then thicken nicely. don't let the sauce burn to the bottom of the pan (keep stirring to avoid this happening).
once the sauce has thickened, add freshly ground salt and pepper to taste, then stir in the cheeses and the mustard. keep folding the sauce mix to ensure the cheese melts and distributes into the sauce evenly. have a quick taste and if it's not flavoursome enough, add another small handful of cheese and some more pepper.

once you're done with the sauce, pour over the pasta in the overproof dish and fold through to ensure all the macaroni is coated evenly. in a food processor, whizz up the bread and a dash of salt and pepper to form coarse crumbs. sprinkle the crumbs over the macaroni then (if so inclined), sprinkle another tiny handful of cheese over the crumbs.

bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs have toasted and look crunchy and golden.

enjoy immediately!

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