Macaroni Cheese is one of the first dishes I ever learned how to make. Our teacher demonstrated to the whole class in the home ec room how to make the dish one week, so that we would follow and make it the next week. It was a very simple affair, with no flourishes or flavourings, and was an introduction to learning how to cook.
Macaroni Cheese is a classic English comfort supper dish. But these days with all the wonderful food influences we have from round the world, it can seem a little bland. In one of my previous posts I discussed how I was inspired by Dub Reggae to make an alternate version of a dish (see the article here). Well, that has led to a couple of discussions of which other dishes could be 'remixed' or 'mashed up' to make something a little original and a little new.
Recently, on her wonderful show 'Baking Made Easy', Lorraine Pascale (supermodel turned super pâtissier) made a highly indulgent Macaroni Cheese, with cream and dolcelatte. It certainly is glam! http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/glam_mac_and_cheese_92848)
My remix involves bringing together Macaroni Cheese with that other British classic; Cauliflower Cheese. Mixing up the pasta with the cauliflower gives 2 different textures to the dish, and means you get a little bit of veg thrown in (perhaps one of your five a day). It also involves using spices to accent the white sauce. And my addiction for using pancetta in nearly everything I make continues. No, I've not gone mad, but a little pancetta here gives a little meatiness and added oomph to a real Winter warmer.
It may be chilly outside, but serve yourself a hot bowl of this and you'll forget all about the cold!
Serves 2 as a main meal
100g pasta (I used fusilli, but macaroni is what you should be using, after all!)
160g cauliflower florets
100g cheddar cheese, grated
40-50g parmesan, finely grated
¼-½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp paprika
1½ tsp Dijon mustard
80g cubetti de pancetta/bacon lardons (optional)
1-2 tbsp undyed (or homemade) breadcrumbs
- Preheat your oven to 175°C if using a fan oven or 195°C if using a non-fan oven.
- Put a large saucepan of water on the hob and bring to the boil. If using pancetta or bacon, dry fry in a non-stick pan until just cooked, about 5 mins. Place on a plate and set aside.
- My pasta needed 12 mins until al dente. So I put the pasta in the boiling water first. You may as well cook the cauliflower florets with the pasta; it saves energy,. Hassle and washing up. They only need 7 mins. Hence I was able to cook the pasta for 5 mins then added the cauliflower for the remaining 7 minute cooking time.
- Whilst the pasta and cauliflower is cooking, start on your cheesy white sauce. Melt the butter in another pan until liquified. Add the flour. Mix thoroughly.
- Keep cooking for about 3 minutes stirring all the time. This stops burning and ensures the flour is properly cooked out.
- Now add the milk in a small drizzle at a time. Do not cut corners here. You need to try to prevent getting lumps in the sauce. I use a small whisk to mix the milk in, whisking away to ensure an even consistency before adding more milk.
- When all the milk is incorporated, keep heating and stirring. Now should be around the time you drain the cooked pasta and cauliflower. Put back into the saucepan you cooked them in.
- You need to keep cooking the white sauce until it thickens to the consistency of double cream. Add in your ground nutmeg, Dijon mustard and paprika to the white sauce. Stir and take off the heat.
- Add 30g parmesan and 65-70g cheddar to the sauce and mix up thoroughly.
- Now add the pancetta and bacon to the cooked pasta and cauliflower. Add the cheesy white sauce. Mix thoroughly.
- Now transfer into an oven proof dish. Top with the remaining cheddar, parmesan and breadcrumbs.
- Put into the oven for 15-20 mins until the cheese has melted and gone golden with touches of brown.