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Macaroni cheese in 4 easy steps

A simple step-by-step guide to making a classic supper dish for quick fix. An old favourite

  • Prep: 15 mins
    Cook: 30 mins
    Plus infusing
  • Serves 4
  • Easy
  • Serves 4
  • Easy
  • Calories 860
  • Carbohydrates 97
  • Saturated Fat 24
  • Sugar 13
  • Protein 36
  • Fat 40
  • Fibre 4
  • Salt 1.72

Nutrition per serving

  • Calories 860
  • Carbohydrates 97
  • Saturated Fat 24
  • Sugar 13
  • Protein 36
  • Fat 40
  • Fibre 4
  • Salt 1.72

Ingredients

  • 700ml full-fat milk
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 350g macaroni
  • 5g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 50g plain flour
  • 175g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 50g coarse white breadcrumbs

Tip

Carbonara
For a smoky kick, add a little cooked chopped smoked bacon or pancetta to the sauce.

The white sauce is too thick
If the sauce is too thick, simply add a little more milk or water to help loosen it. Remember, the addition of cheese and hot macaroni will thicken the sauce further.

Try some new flavours
Macaroni cheese is a very versatile dish – you can add extra flavours you love or use up leftover ingredients.

Special cheese
Add some of your favourite cheese to the sauce instead of the cheddar. Blue cheese works really well, especially a creamy Gorgonzola, or try using some nutty-tasting Gruyère.

The macaroni sticks together
Keep running water over the macaroni and break the pieces apart with your fingers. Ideally, time the macaroni so that it is cooked at the same time as you finish the cheese sauce, then mix the two together straight away.

Creamy veg
Gently fry some leeks and mushrooms in a little butter, then stir into the pasta along with sauce. Top with a layer of thinly sliced tomatoes instead of using Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Method

  1. Prepare the pasta: In a small pan, warm the milk, onion, garlic and bay leaf until almost boiling. Remove from the heat, leave covered to infuse for 10 mins, then strain. Cook the macaroni according to pack instructions until just soft, but still with a little bite (this is called al dente in Italian). This will take about 10 mins. Drain in a colander, then run under the tap and stir to stop the pasta sticking together.

  2. Make a roux: (A roux is simply flour and fat, cooked together, then used to thicken sauces.) Heat oven to 190C/ fan 170C/gas 5 and butter a 25 x 18cm ovenproof dish. Melt the butter in the medium pan. When foaming, add the flour, then cook, stirring constantly, for 1 min on a low heat.

  3. Finish the sauce: Slowly stir the warm infused milk into the roux until smooth. Simmer for 3-4 mins, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened and has a coating consistency (run your finger through the sauce on a spoon – it should leave a trail). Remove the pan from the heat, then add the cheddar and mustard powder. Season, then stir until the cheese has melted.

  4. Assemble and bake: Mix the cheesesauce through the macaroni to coat it well, then tip into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan and breadcrumbs over the top, then bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown and bubbling. Serve piping hot on its own or with a green salad.

  5. EQUIPMENT: 1 small saucepan with lid, 1 large saucepan, 1 medium saucepan, colander, chopping board, sharp knife, grater, wooden spoon, ovenproof dish

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