This evening's dinner was a real treat. We don't have it often because of the calories involved - but as we're all cheesehounds, it always goes down very well.
I had a bit of a challenge with this one, as hubby had declared that he hadn't really enjoyed my previous incarnations of Macaroni Cheese, so I was determined to do the best I could with this one. I knew I had to make sure the Macaroni was cooked just that tad past al dente, the sauce was suitably cheesy, you could just taste the English mustard, and that the sauce was sufficient from a quantity point of view. But then, a dry Macaroni Cheese is no fun for anyone.
MACARONI CHEESE (serves 4-5)
2 tbsp butter
half a pack of smoked streaky bacon, diced
1 onion, diced fine
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 tsp English mustard powder
3 tbsp plain flour
500ml whole milk (and a bit extra, in case of need)
250g mature cheddar, grated
10 g parmesan, grated
1. Pre-heat the oven to 190deg C (fan). Boil the pasta for 2 mins less than stated on the pack.
2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon and set aside. Then add the onions to the fat left by the bacon and fry gently - without colouring - until they are soft.
3. Grate in the garlic clove and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then gradually whisk in the milk until you have a lump-free sauce. Add the mustard and whisk in, along with some black pepper.
5. Simmer for 5 mins, whisking constantly until thickened. Take care that it doesn't begin to burn on the bottom of the pan.
6. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stir until it is melted, then add the bacon and stir in. Taste to check the seasoning.
7. Stir in the drained pasta, then decant into a large casserole dish and scatter over the breadcrumbs.
8. Place into the oven and bake for 20-30 mins until crisp, golden and bubbling at the edges.
From a personal point of view, I enjoy a side salad with my Macaroni Cheese as I find the pasta itself can get a bit samey towards the end, plus the cheese sauce can get a bit much without a flavour to counter its richness.
So I decided upon a small mixed salad with a honey & mustard dressing. The dressing I made from scratch, using :
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
half a tsp of whole grain mustard
1 tsp of runny honey
salt & pepper
I just put them all in a cup and whipped them up with a fork. It was the kind of dressing that I could easily eat by the spoonful without any salad and I was correct in my thought that it would complement the main dish. It did so very well indeed.