Mac 'n' cheese, otherwise known as Kraft dinner in my mind, is a classic American pasta dish consisting of macaroni, white sauce and cheese. I feel a little deprived that I was never really introduced to this as a child. It was only while on a J1 in Canada, that I was introduced to the cheap convenience versions of mac 'n' cheese which soon became our staple diet. Only now, have I realised that Kraft dinner is an awful representation of what Mac 'n' Cheese is really meant to taste like, believe me, when it's done properly it's an absolute winner. Crispy lardons or pancetta is a really lovely addition to this dish and can be added close to the end.*
This dish is comfort food at it's best, exactly what you need coming into the winter months.
4 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely diced
800ml boiling milk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
good pinch cayenne pepper
dash of Worcestershire sauce
250g grated white cheddar cheese
70g grated parmesan cheese
225g dried macaroni
2 slices wholemeal bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs
*140g cooked crispy pancetta
Melt 2 tbsp of butter in an ovenproof saucepan or casserole pot. Add the finely diced onion and cook on a low heat until the onion is soft.
Add the rest of the butter and once the butter bubbles, stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Gradually pour in the boiling milk, whisking all the time to ensure a smooth consistency.
Bring the mixture to the boil and continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce is thick and smooth.
Remove from the heat and stir in the ground nutmeg, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, grated cheddar and half of the grated parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente'. Drain, then toss into the cheese sauce and stir well to combine. * Stir in 140g crispy lardons or pancetta here.
If you havn't made your sauce in an ovenproof casserole-type pot, don't fret, you can transfer it all now into a deep earthenware dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and remaining grated parmesan evenly over the top. Preheat your grill to high. Place under the grill for a few minutes to brown and crisp the surface.
If you would like to reheat at a later stage, pop the dish into a preheated oven at 200C for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.