Ultimate Mac and Cheese
I love macaroni cheese aka mac & cheese. Anything with cheese actually. But macaroni cheese is my comfort food. For days when I don’t feel like cooking anything fancy … macaroni cheese is always something I can rustle up from humble ingredients.
Who doesn’t have pasta, cheese and milk in their kitchen?
This mac & cheese however is made with a little twist. A little grown up maybe. If you are making this for the kids, you can just omit the lardons and shallots and even breadcrumbs if your kids are fussy. Just serve the macaroni with plenty of cheese and grill the top for a few minutes. My kids love it with the extra ingredients – they say it tastes more flavourful which is mega bonus points for me!
Here’s how I made my super easy Ultimate Mac and Cheese.
Firstly cook the macaroni until it is al dente (or cook it according to packet instructions – whichever is easiest for you). Once cooked, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Next, make the super cheesy sauce. To start, make a roux. A roux is a thickening paste made from flour and butter. In a large pan melt the butter then add the flour to the pan. Mix well for a minute or two – it should resemble a thick brown paste.
Now add the milk. Add a little at a time, stir well each time you add the milk. Use a balloon whisk as it helps to get out the lumps. Don’t be tempted to add all the milk in one go … this will cause the sauce to split. Once all the milk has been added, cook the sauce on a high heat for a few minutes – stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken slightly.
Add the grated cheddar cheese to the milky sauce – a big handful at a time. Mix well after each handful. Once all the cheese has been added, stir well and allow the cheese to melt thoroughly and thicken. Season with a pinch of salt and white pepper and a generous pinch of nutmeg. Set aside on a low heat for a few minutes.
In a frying pan, cook the shallots and lardons. Fry until softened and cooked through then add this to the sauce, also add the the cooked macaroni. Mix well and transfer to an oven proof dish.
For the crunchy topping, mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and a pinch of fresh thyme. Mix well and sprinkle on top of the macaroni cheese.
Pop the macaroni cheese under the grill (on a low heat) for about 5 to 10 minutes – you want the breadcrumbs to become lightly browned – keep an eye on it as it can brown quite quickly. Serve straight away.
Check out the printable recipe below for the Ultimate Mac and Cheese.
Ultimate Macaroni Cheese
– 400g macaroni
– 50g butter
– 50g plain flour
– 650ml whole milk
– Pinch of ground nutmeg
– 180g cheddar cheese (grated)
– 100g lardons
– 1 large shallot (finely chopped)
– 1 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
– 25g breadcrumbs
– 20g parmesan cheese (finely grated)
– Salt and white pepper (to taste)
1. Cook macaroni until it is al dente (or according to packet instructions). Set aside.
2. Add butter and flour to a small pan, mix well and cook on a medium heat until it forms a paste – about 2 minutes.
3. Reduce heat and slowly add the milk a little at a time, stir between each addition. Don’t be tempted to add all the milk at once because the sauce may split.
4. Add the grated cheddar cheese, a handful at a time to the milk sauce – stir well allowing the cheese to melt. Once all the cheese has been added – cook on a high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and white pepper to taste. Keep the sauce warm on a low heat for a couple of minutes.
5. In a frying pan, fry the shallots and lardons until they are softened and cooked through – add this to the cheese sauce. Also add the macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix well.
6. Transfer the macaroni to a baking dish – spread out evenly.
7. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and the thyme. Mix well and sprinkle this on top of the macaroni.
8. Finally, grill the macaroni for 5 to 10 minutes on a low heat until the top is browned and nicely toasted.
You can experiment with this recipe and use different cheeses and protein such as diced chicken. This recipe is adapatable so don’t be afraid to change it up!
I hope you get a chance to try this. It’s super quick and easy and the whole family will love it!
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Until next time.
~ The Cake Lady xxx