This was originally published in our start up blog in 2013.
After coming out of January on a Paleo Diet and no booze, Gems is happily embracing carbs and dairy this month.
Today has been one of those days – dark, gloomy, cold and no chance of Mr Sunshine making an appearance. The 3 musketeers were busy working at The Vale Harvest, Haddenham and Old Amersham Market over the weekend so it really is a day of rest at Open Air Foods HQ today.
With this in mind, comfort is key and for me, cheese and pasta hit the nail on the head. This recipe is adapted from various sources. Firstly, Nigel Slater’s book The Kitchen Diaries which has been relied upon in our kitchen since it’s release in 2005, the website finecooking.com and lastly, our very own Mama Mia who over the years has churned out a few hundred portions of killer mac ‘n’ cheese.
Luxurious Macaroni Cheese
1 litre of milk
400g of macaroni (we are big eaters in our family!)
60g of butter (for me it is just a large knob sliced off a block)
1 bay leaf
60g flour (again, I use a couple of heaped tablespoons in my sauce)
Salt and white pepper
Generous grating of fresh nutmeg
100g Mont d’or
50g (depending on how much you like!) Pecorino / Parmesan for the topping
2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
100g of white breadcrumbs (for the topping)
Set to work on your macaroni first by boiling a large pan of salted water and adding your pasta. Watch this carefully as you really don’t want to overcook the pasta making it gloopy.
Next step is to look after your sauce by heating the milk very gently so it starts to simmer. If you are a dab hand, then you can keep an eye on the milk while you grab another saucepan and melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. (However, if too many things cause you a headache then just allow the milk to simmer first and then bring it off the hob and pop a lid on so it keeps warm while you work on your roux.)
Back onto the sauce. Add the onion and bay leaf to your butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften and becomes translucent. Add the flour to the butter saucepan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot milk from the other saucepan, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes until thickened and smooth. Season the white sauce with 1 tsp. salt, pepper to taste and the nutmeg. At this stage check your sauce is the right consistency. Nigel Slater recommends double cream thickness which has always worked well for me.
Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and cut up your cheese into cubes or alternatively grate your harder cheese. Add this into your sauce and combine together with the pasta so it is well covered and even.
Place into a large oven proof dish and pop the breadcrumbs and grated pecorino / parmesan on top. Cook for 50 minutes until bubbling and brown and serve with a chicory and rocket salad.