So this dish may not be the healthiest dinner on the planet but it’s perfect for staying warm and cosy in the horrible winter weather… The best mac ‘n cheese I’ve ever had was in The Grove in San Francisco – it was the perfect blend of soft gooey cheese and crunchy breadcrumbs on top. Recently I’ve found myself really craving this comfort food but the supermarket ones are full of sodium and are horribly watery, so I thought I’d share my take on this American classic. The key to this recipe is the cheese sauce (obv). Like anything worth having a this part of the recipe requires care, patience, and elbow grease but at the end you will have the perfect balance of cheese with a subtle bite from the mustard. That paired with super easy breadcrumbs made in our Itsy Blitz and tasty pasta really makes it the perfect treat for the whole family. You can even sneak some peas in for the kids if you want – I like to keep it simple but go wild!
- 300g Spiral Pasta
- 30g Unsalted Butter
- 25g Sieved Flour
- 500 ml Milk
- 1 tsp Mustard
- 250 g Grated Mature Cheddar (plus a few handfuls more because WHY is it so impossible to resist grated cheese?)
- 1 Piece of Old Bread
- Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
- Bring a pan of water to boil and then add your pasta. You want to undercook it for about 2 or 3 minutes less than you normally would. When this is done drain and keep a small amount of the pasta water (about 35ml).
Okay… The sauce…
- Melt the butter in a pan on a low heat.
- Once the butter starts to foam add the flour and stir until it forms a paste. Stir for another 2 minutes so the paste is thick and smooth.
- Now you can slowly begin to add your milk. Make sure to be stirring constantly and only add a bit at a time. The key to this sauce is to fully incorporate the milk into the flour and butter mixture before adding any more. (Incorporating in basic terms is constantly mixing ingredients together to make sure they are evenly distributed in the dish).
- Gradually add your milk until a thick paste has formed and there are no lumps (if there are lumps you can whisk them out before you add the pasta).
- When all the milk has been incorporated you can add your pepper and mustard. The mustard isn’t essential and you can add as little as you like depending on taste, however it helps break through the monotony of the other simple ingredients and adds a vibrant yellow tint to the sauce. Stir these well.
- CHEESE TIME! The best bit… Now add about ¾ of your cheese to the sauce and stir. As the cheese begins to melt you can add the pasta water to keep the sauce thick, starchy, and stop it drying out in the oven.
Once all the cheese has melted and the sauce looks thick and creamy it’s time to start assembling…
- Take the sauce off the heat as you make your bread crumbs. For these you just have to tear up a piece of bread (the older and more stale the better) and then put the pieces in your Itsy Blitz or food processor and Voila – perfect bread crumbs in less than a minute.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and stir well.
- Put the pasta and sauce mixture into a shallow oven proof tray.
- Add the remaining cheese and bread crumbs on top and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.
- Serve with a salad, as a side, or enjoy on it’s own.