Here at last is my recipe for Macaroni Cheese - and I hope you'll forgive the mixture of measures. Somehow I can't seem to get them constant - I'm useless with metric, but as things like packs of macaroni come in kilos these days, I don't have a lot of choice. If you can't make sense of this, just ask me to clarify it and I'll do my best. Here goes:
This makes four really good-sized portions
Ingredients: 1 third of a pack of macaroni (approx 333gms)
100gms good strong Cheddar cheese (use more if you like it really strong)
Approx: 1 pint liquid (I use half full-cream milk, and half vegetable stock because
I think it gives a better flavour)
1 oz. or 1 old-fashioned heaped tablespoon of flour
1 good oz. of hard butter (no substitutes)
1 good pinch Colman's Mustard powder
Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.
Approx. 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese for topping (again use more if you wish).
Method: First I put a large, buttered, dish into a warm oven (approx 150) to warm (I use old butter papers to give the dish a non-stick finish). Then I start by cooking the macaroni in a large saucepan covered with plenty of boiling, salted water. It takes about 10 - 13 minutes to cook it thoroughly, and as the macaroni swells you may need to add more water. (Tip: add boiling water so that the cooking time isn't slowed down and stir the macaroni fairly frequently to stop it sticking together). While the macaroni is cooking, make the Roux: put the butter into a smaller saucepan on a low heat to melt. Do not burn the butter - if you do you will have to start again. When the butter is melted, take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour and the pinch of mustard powder, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. It will get thick very quickly. Put the pan back on a low heat and gradually add the milk and vegetable stock a little at a time, stirring all the time with your wooden spoon to avoid lumps. This is labour intensive I know, but the object is to achieve a smooth creamy sauce which is approximately the thickness of pouring cream. If the sauce gets lumpy take it off the heat and whisk with a small whisk until it is smooth before continuing. If your macaroni is cooked before the sauce is finished, simply take the sauce off the heat and put it to one side while you drain the macaroni. I have found that cooked macaroni is very lively indeed! It seems to leap about when you least want it to, so be careful as you drain it into a large colander, otherwise it will all jump out into the sink! When you have drained it, run the cold tap through the colander to wash all the excess starch out of the macaroni. This is very important, because it takes away the "clagginess" of most cooked pasta. (In fact I do this with all my pasta.) Next, put the cooked macaroni (carefully) back into the saucepan and add a drizzle of good olive oil which you mix into the pasta with a wooden spoon. This stops it sticking together. Next continue with the sauce (back on a low heat) by stirring in the grated Cheddar cheese until it is all smoothly combined. At this point I also add salt and pepper to taste. You will find that the sauce thickens as you stir in the cheese, and it should be both creamy and delicious. Now remove your warmed dish from the oven (carefully), pour in the cooked macaroni and add the cheese sauce, slowly, stirring it in well. Then sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the top and return the dish to the oven, turning up the grill to brown the top. This only takes a couple of minutes. The result should be (I hope) a deliciously creamy Macaroni Cheese. This whole process takes me about 30 minutes and makes enough to feed four really greedy people.
Now if I were anything like as clever as my good friend Donna , I would have a mouth-watering photo to show you at this point, but as I'm not, you will just have to imagine it. Despite this, I hope you will try it and enjoy it! Happy cooking..