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Mac & Cheese

This cheesy treat is fit for a main course or as a side dish on the dinner table. It’s a great addition to a celebration spread or to amp up a regular weeknight meal. The combination of short ribbed pasta and that cheese sauce ensures a perfect spoonful with every bite.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian, American
Servings 6 people

Equipment

  • Sauce pot
  • Sauté pan
  • Stock pot
  • Strainer
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Tablespoons
  • Oven proof dish

Ingredients
  

Pasta

  • 250 gm Pasta
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 2 cups Pasta water (saved after boiling)

Sauce

  • 1 Onion (grated)
  • 3 nos Garlic grated
  • 250 ml Milk
  • 40 gm Butter
  • 30 gm Flour
  • ¼ tsp Nutmeg powder
  • 1 tsp Crushed black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Mustard
  • 1 tsp Tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp Paprika
  • 30 gm Cream cheese
  • 50 gm Cheddar (grated)
  • 75 gm Mozzarella (cubed)
  • 20 gm Parmesan (grated)

Savory Breadcrumb

  • 80 gm Stale bread
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • ½ tbsp Crushed black pepper
  • 3 tbsp Nuts/Seeds
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • Pinch of Salt

Assembly (optional)

  • 3 tbsp Parmesan (grated)
  • ½ tsp Crushed black pepper

Serve

  • Green salad

Instructions
 

Pasta

  • Start by boiling the pasta in a large stockpot. You need 4 times the amount of water to pasta (4:1 – Water : Pasta ratio). Bring the water to a boil and a generous tablespoon of salt and boil the pasta as per the package (usually 6-8mins).
  • Undercook the pasta by 2 mins as it will finish cooking when baked later. Save 2 coffee mugs worth pasta water and drain out the rest.
  • Drizzle a little olive oil over the drained pasta and set aside.

Savory Breadcrumbs

  • In a blender add all the ingredients except for the olive oil and nuts, blitz to a fine sand like texture.
  • In a sauté pan on low heat add the oil and toss in the breadcrumb mixture. Using a spoon constantly stir it until the color has changed and you can get a toast like aroma.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Sauce

  • In a saucepot add the butter and let it bubble on low to medium heat. Add the grated onions and garlic and sweat until translucent.
  • Add the flour and stir. It will look pasty at this stage. Cook for a couple of minutes until you get the aroma of a baked biscuit (this means the flour has been cooked out)
  • Add the milk a little at a time and constantly whisk over the heat ensuring the flame is not high.
  • Cook over the heat for 3-4 min until the sauce has thickened, constantly stir the sauce to ensure there are no lumps. It will not be smooth as the onions and garlic is in there.
  • At this stage add 1 coffee mug worth of the pasta water into the sauce and whisk until it is smooth. Stir until combined and take it off the heat.
  • Add the mustard, tomato paste, paprika, cream cheese and stir.
  • Add all the cheese except for the mozzarella cubes into the sauce and stir to combine.

Assembly

  • Pour the sauce over the drained pasta, add the mozzarella cubes and stir until everything is mixed well with each other.
  • Taste and season with salt and crushed black pepper based on your palate.
  • At this stage transfer the mac and cheese to an oven proof dish, sprinkle over the savory breadcrumbs, some more cheese and bake at 180°C for 12-14 mins until the top is crunchy and golden brown.
  • Best eaten while it is still hot from the oven.

Notes

PRO TIP:
• A couple of chopped Gerkins, Jalapenos and a splash of white vine vinegar tastes delicious in this recipe
• The breadcrumbs can be made with bacon however, to make you chop the bacon separately, sauté them in their own fat and fry the breadcrumbs in it.
• To make it richer you can increase the cheese content to 250gm for this recipe.
• I like to sprinkle extra cheese on top, using Parmesan for this ensures and crunchy top.