I’m not a massive fan of pasta. I think it stems from my days as a student when we used to buy Asda value fusilli by the sackful and cover it with Campbells Condensed Soup trying to pass it off as some sort of fancy sauce.
I’m not a massive fan of most cheese either. I like a mature cheddar, will happily stretch to a gruyere but never to a blue cheese and absolutely not to anything remotely goatey.
But it would be amiss to say that I like macaroni cheese. I frigging love the stuff. I remember reading my Mum’s recipe books when I was little and I was fascinated by the ‘Dairy Book of Family Cookery’. Recipes and pictures for potatoes au gratin, mousse and cream based sauces were so different to anything my Mum cooked that I used to stare at them and wonder what they tasted like. The book also had a recipe for macaroni cheese and I designed a school home economics project around it simply because I would get to make it.
This leads me to something else I’m not fond of – making a roux. I find the whole affair a pain in the arse. I normally have to start one and throw it out before I can make a decent attempt and even then the likelihood of me whisking milk all over myself or burning the butter or not cooking the flour out long enough is pretty high. But I love macaroni cheese so I do it.
However, upon doing a bit of reading, I’ve discovered that the American method of Mac n Cheese (note the name change) is not to use a roux but to use evaporated milk. Sceptics, put away your wagging fingers and stop shaking your heads. It works. And it’s delicious. And it’s SO easy.
Mac n Cheese
340ml evaporated milk
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp mustard of your choosing – I like English mustard
175g cheddar cheese, grated
175g melting cheese – something like Emmenthal / Gruyere / Comte, grated
ground black pepper
1) In a large frying pan or skillet mix the water, evaporated milk, salt and pasta and heat over a medium/high heat until simmering
2) Simmer until pasta is tender (about 9/10 mins)
3) In a bowl whisk the milk, cornflour and mustard together
4) Once pasta is al dente, stir in the milk mixture. Stir and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly (for about 2 mins)
5) Remove from the heat and add the cheese one handful at a time stirring well after each addition
6) You might need to loosen the mixture by adding more milk
7) Add the butter and lots of freshly grated pepper and stir well.
You could happily pimp up this dish by substituting half the pasta with small cauliflower or broccoli florets and sprinkling some breadcrumbs (and cooked pancetta cubes for the meat lovers) over the top when finished and popping it under the grill to crisp up…