Pasta isn’t something we eat a lot of at home. I love it, but Tom isn’t as keen! But one thing he always loves when I make it is my Mac and cheese. For me, Mac and cheese is a meal of nostalgia and comfort. It’s so tasty and also cheap to make! For me, the thing that makes the Mac and cheese is the crunchy, breadcrumb topping and the ultimate cheesy sauce. I also don’t think you can get a better one than a homemade one. I’ve never had a really good Mac and cheese out in a restaurant, I find they’re always too dry and zero seasoning. They always feel stodgy and not in a good way!
My recipe is a simple one and anyone would be able to make it. I cheat and buy ready-grated cheese as I simply can’t be arsed to stand there and grate my own! Mac and cheese for me is an easy, family meal that doesn’t require someone standing over a stove for hours to create! If you’re not a confident cook, you could even buy a white sauce and add all the other bits to it to make it taste good. Sometimes, we all need a quick, cheat meal. Am I right?
This recipe easily serves 4 people. I never serve mine with garlic bread as I find it too filling, but if you want to, it is bloody tasty. I also saute leeks and fresh chilli in butter but this is a personal preference and you could leave this bit out! The worst thing about making mac and cheese is the washing up!
Prep time – 5 minutes
Cooking time – 35-40 minutes.
- 300g macaroni pasta
- 2 medium leeks, sliced
- 2 red chillis, finely chopped
- 40g plain flour
- 400ml semi skimmed milk
- 40g salted butter
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 300g grated cheese (I always use a mix of mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan)
- 3 slices of bread blitzed to make breadcrumbs – top tip, if you have bread that is going stale, whip it all up into breadcrumbs and freeze it for future use. It’s a real lifesaver sometimes! If I have herbs in the fridge to use up, I usually add those too for a bit of flavour!
- Firstly, put a large pot of water onto boil for the pasta. Remember to salt the water. When it has boiled, add the macaroni and cook for 10 minutes (or however long yours needs). When it is cooked, drain and set to one side.
- Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees.
- Next, start making your white sauce. Add the butter and flour into a large pan and whisk over a medium heat to make a roux.
- Slowly add the milk. As it all combines, it will become smooth and have a lovely thick texture. Although you don’t want it to be like glue – if you feel it is too thick, add a little more milk to loosen it. Remember, you can always add stuff but can’t take it away!
- Now it’s time to make the sauce cheesy! Add the mustards, and slowly add the cheese so it melts in short bursts. Once all the cheese has melted, season with salt and pepper. Be careful when you add the salt though. Cheese can have a high salt content so you don’t want to overdo it.
- If you’re planning on adding leeks and chilli, melt some butter in a small pan and add the leeks and chilli. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes before adding to the cheese sauce.
- Before baking in the oven, combine the sauce and pasta and add to a large ovenproof dish. Cover with the breadcrumbs.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the breadcrumbs have gone golden brown.