Friday, 20 April 2012

Almost Glam Mac and Cheese!!

What is not to like about macaroni pasta smothered in an elegant cheese sauce with a crispy topping, pure heaven! Lorraine Pascale made this on her Baking Made Easy show that aired on BBC 2, where I spent most of my time in front of the television, scribbling down the recipes furiously (most of which have made it to this blog!!) all the while planning the next day's meal, which would often be a replica of the show. I enjoy her recipes immensely and most of you do too, judging by the popularity of her Oven Baked Scotch Eggs recipe. This is a slightly altered version of her Glam Mac and Cheese, perhaps less glamorous but just as tasty!!

Serves 4 

340g Macaroni
80g Pancetta, diced
Small handful fresh thyme leaves
3 Spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced (I used mushrooms instead)
100g Breadcrumbs
Handful chopped fresh parsley

For the cheese sauce
40g Butter
40g Plain flour
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 tsp English mustard powder
200ml Milk
285ml Double cream
200g Dolcelatte or gorgonzola cheese ( I used mild cheddar cheese instead)
115g Parmesan, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/40º0F/Gas 6. Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water, for 8-10 minutes, or until just cooked. (It needs to be just undercooked as the pasta will be cooked again in the oven.) Drain, return to the pan and set aside. Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a medium frying pan over a gentle heat until it just starts to brown and crisp up, then add the thyme leaves and spring onions and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. 

Remove the pan from the heat and add its contents to the pasta. For the sauce, put the butter, flour, nutmeg and mustard in a small pan set over a medium heat and cook until the butter has melted.

Mix the milk and cream together in a jug and add a little to the flour and butter in the pan, stirring well. Keep adding the milk mixture, bit by bit, stirring well each time. (This will prevent the sauce from going lumpy. The temptation is to put all the milk in at once only to find you are left with clumps of flour floating on the surface. Should this happen, take the pan off the heat and whisk it like crazy. This normally does the trick to eliminate all the lumps! Make sure you get the spoon into the ‘corners’ of the pan as stray mounds of flour often lurk there.) Once all the milk has been added, turn up the heat and boil for a minute or two.

The sauce will thicken considerably, then remove the pan from the heat. Add two-thirds of the dolcelatte (or gorgonzola/cheddar in this case) and parmesan to the sauce while it is still hot and stir together until well combined. It may be a bit lumpy, but that is fine.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the sauce to the pasta mixture and stir everything together. Spoon the mixture into a shallow casserole dish or four individual large ramekins.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs over the top and bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and the topping is golden-brown. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

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