Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The Real Deal

Mac and Cheese. All right. I'm a father of a three and five year old and this is their favorite recipe of mine. It is fast, cheap, somewhat easy and kids dig it. The base is a Bechamel and then you add grated cheese of your choice (Mornay Sauce is the french classical term). If you are not comfortable making a roux (a thickening technique where you cook equal parts fat and flour) this recipe will remove your fears of this simple technique. It is important to remember that when making a sauce or soup with a roux, you have to incorporate the liquid to the roux at opposite temperatures. If the roux is hot, your liquid should be cold and vice versa.

This is the kids favorite version but it is a base. Mac and cheese can be altered to whatever flavours you have leftover or whatever the kids enjoy.

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

700 g Elbow Macaroni, dried
50 g Butter
50 g Flour
500 ml Milk
400 g Cheddar or other cheese of choice, grated
10 g Dijon Mustard
Pinch of Nutmeg
Sugar, Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 Celsius.

In a tall stock pot, boil salted water. Add pasta and cook to directions. Once cooked, place pasta in 8 x 11 dish. Add drop of olive oil and distribute evenly throughout the pasta.

In a soup pot under medium heat, melt butter. Add nutmeg. When butter is frothy, add flour. With a wooden spoon, cook flour and stir until it clumps up. About 1 minute. Slowly pour in milk while whisking simulteanously. Keep whisking until milk comes to a slight boil. Reduce heat. Add 300 g of the grated cheese slowly while whisking to incorporate. Finish with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Pour sauce on top of pasta and stir evenly. Cover casserole with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is golden on top.

Serves 6.

The topping can be anything really. My kids like seasoned granola (yup, the instant kind with herbs and salt) or simple breadcrumbs with a bit of garlic in it.

I sometimes put in whatever I have in the fridge. Last night I had extra bacon so I cooked the bacon in the butter then added my flour then followed the recipe.

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